Earlier this week, I saw a photo of the Nelson Mandela Capture Site on my friend Meruschka’s Instagram feed. Meruschka’s post reminded me that I visited the Nelson Mandela Capture Site nearly a year ago and had yet to blog about it. Hence, my newest Pop-Up Travel post.
The Nelson Mandela Capture Site commemorates the time and place in which Nelson Mandela — on the run from the apartheid government — was captured and arrested in 1962. After his arrest in the small town of Howick, in what was then South Africa’s Natal Province, Mandela was convicted of treason and went on to spend 27 years in prison.
Today this still-rural spot in KwaZulu Natal is marked with a dramatic sculpture by South African artist Marco Cianfanelli, depicting Nelson Mandela’s profile with a collection of jagged, black metal bars. (You may remember that Cianfanelli also has a beautiful Mandela sculpture in downtown Joburg called the Shadow Boxer.)
Ray and I stopped at the Capture Site last year on our way home from an eventful trip to Durban and the Wild Coast. We were tired, but the site is literally minutes from the highway and we couldn’t resist stopping for a quick look. Our visit was definitely worth the tiny detour and R25 ($1.64) admission fee.
Ray shoots a photo of the Mandela sculpture as a train passes behind it.
It’s a long walk from the parking area down to the sculpture, which Ray and I jokingly called “the long walk to freedom”. The walk was enjoyable though; as we walked, we watched the image slowly emerge and then disappear again.
The Capture Site grounds include a small, temporary museum with some nice exhibits about Mandela and the history of the struggle against apartheid. A larger, permanent museum is under construction, although progress is slow-going: A year after my visit, Meruschka tells me the new museum still isn’t finished. There is also a conference facility and a lovely-looking restaurant called the Truth Café, which we didn’t have time to investigate.
With or without the museum, the Capture Site is worth a stop on the way between Johannesburg and Durban. There are also several quaint restaurants and shops in the surrounding area, which is part of the Midlands Meander. I’m sure I’ll be back.