Nelson Mandela Capture Site

Pop-Up Travel: The Nelson Mandela Capture Site

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.)

Nelson Mandela Capture SiteAn innovative bust of Mandela in Howick, KwaZulu Natal.

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 and Nelson Mandela Capture Site sculptureRay 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.

Nelson Mandela Capture Site sculpture up closeMandela up close.

Nelson Mandela Capture Site barsInside the sculpture.

Nelson Mandela Capture Site barsIt’s difficult to fathom how the artist dreamt this up.

Nelson Mandela Capture Site barsBars of freedom.

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.

Nelson Mandela Capture Site benchesI really loved this place.

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.

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  • Reply UnderAnAfricanSun May 10, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    I was just working on a post about this too, very special place to visit. You did not miss out by not visiting the restaurant, hahaha.

    • Reply 2summers May 10, 2016 at 9:41 pm

      Haha, what a coincidence!

  • Reply autumnashbough May 11, 2016 at 6:04 am

    Wow. You can’t really tell how intricate and carefully planned the sculpture is without your close-up photos. Very, very impressive. Haunting. Thanks for posting.

    • Reply 2summers May 11, 2016 at 6:47 am

      I know, it’s really mind-blowing. I don’t know how the artist does it.

  • Reply K for Kate (@Kate_Els) May 11, 2016 at 9:25 am

    I was busy updating my post on the Capture Site last night and then just red yours. They really need to sort out their admission situation. When I went through three weeks ago they said they’re still not charging admission because the formal museum isn’t open. I think maybe an opportunist took advantage of you two sadly.

    • Reply 2summers May 11, 2016 at 9:43 am

      Oh, really? Yes, it was a very casual situation if I remember correctly, like someone was sitting outside the temporary museum with a can ?

  • Reply catherine May 11, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    I had no idea that it was made that way, first time I see a close up photo, thank you!!!!

    • Reply 2summers May 11, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      My pleasure! It really does look totally different up close.

  • Reply Jaina May 11, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    Beautiful artwork – sculptures like this always amaze me.

    • Reply 2summers May 17, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      It really is amazing — that guy is a spectacular artist. He has another work inside a bank building in Joburg that is actually the most spectacular sculpture of all. I need to blog about it!

  • Reply Lani May 12, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    I was just teaching my young learners about Nelson Mandela. We didn’t get into his life too deeply, and English is not their native tongue, but it was nice to be able to introduce him and others because we were reading about the Nobel Peace Prize.

    • Reply 2summers May 17, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      That’s cool! Mandela was really an extraordinary figure — there will never be another world leader like him. I feel privileged to have lived in South Africa during the years leading up to his death. It really made me appreciate his achievements.

  • Reply all-TIM-ate August 3, 2016 at 7:37 am

    Am inspired again – thank you. I’m taking some time off work and will drive around the country, am adding the capture site to my list of places to visit.

    • Reply 2summers August 3, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      You’ll love it. Such a peaceful, beautiful place.

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