Over the past few years we have been fortunate to travel fairly extensively around South Africa as a family. It has been a real joy introducing our kids to the beautiful landscapes, diverse people and rich history of the country we call home and I never taken this privilege for granted.
On our family travels around South Africa I’ve always tried to teach my kids about our complicated past when the opportunity has allowed – and although we may not home school full time – I find this really extends their knowledge and adds to their general education.
Exposing ourselves and our kids to new places, people, foods and feelings is why we travel and a secret part of me would LOVE to travel the world while “world schooling” but I also know I’m far too traditional (and impatient) for that! For now we’ll stick to the occasional educational outing – at home and on our trips.
One such enlightening outing was on our visit to the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal when we were fortunate to spend time exploring The Nelson Mandela Capture Site memorial and museum
Located on an unlikely country road just outside Howick in the Midlands is this world renowned spot where the history of South Africa changed forever on on 5 August 1962.
The Nelson Mandela Capture Site marks the moment in history when Nelson Mandela was arrested, disappeared from public view and subsequently spent the next 27 years of his life in prison.
The story of his long walk to freedom is now famous around the world – and it all started here at the capture site. This is where armed apartheid police flagged down a car in which Nelson Mandela was pretending to be the chauffeur. Having succeeded in evading capture by apartheid operatives for 17 months, Mandela had just paid a clandestine visit to ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli’s Groutville home to report back on his African odyssey, and to request support in calling for an armed struggle. It was in this dramatic way, at this unassuming spot, that Nelson Mandela was finally captured and arrested.
Commemorated with a visitor centre and a world renowned sculpture made of 50 steel columns that dramatically come into focus as Mandela’s face from a particular vantage point, the site is poignant and sobering – a place for reflection and in sharp contrast to the original modest monument consisting of a plaque set into a face-brick wall. on the R103.
We visited prior to the opening of the visitor centre but our visit was no less impactful We all found ourselves lingering longer on the contemplative “long walk” down to the iconic ‘Release’ sculpture and stopping along the way to absorb each historical moment marked along the route.
The new visitor centre, however, takes this experience to another level with an immersive exhibition, a 360-surround film and a unique display of historical photographs and other artefacts. There is even a replica of the Austin Westminster that Mandela was driving when he was arrested in 1962!
The exhibition focuses on struggles in this part of the country. Starting with the Bambatha Rebellion of 1906, it traces decades of resistance to colonial rule and apartheid, culminating in the mass mobilisation of the 1980s. In this way, the place of Mandela’s capture becomes a gateway to understanding the history of this province, and its contribution to the freedom of all South Africans.
It is well worth a visit – but if you cannot visit in person, there is also a virtual tour of the visitor centre and sculpture. It certainly is one of the best things to do with kids in the KZN Midlands
Ticket prices vary and groups of more than 15 people must book in advance. Payments can be made online using credit cards and Zapper or at the ticket office.
Children (under 12): Free
Young adults (12 – 18 years): R30
Adults (18 – 60 years): R100 (Adults aged 18 – 35 years can get R60 entry on Thursdays)
Pensioners (60 years+): R60 (Half price on Wednesdays)
Scholars and teachers: R30
Guided tours: R10 per person
Discounts are offered for large groups and there are also ticket prices for school groups and membership cards.
Please contact the Nelson Mandela Capture Site directly for their full rates.
Nelson Mandela Capture Site Visitor Centre and Sculpture
Monday – Sunday 09:00 – 17:00 (Last entry at 16:00)
Allow at least one to two hours to visit the site.
(Closed – 25th & 26th December, 1st January)
Open only on weekends.
Tel: +27 (0) 72 351 0967
Take the N3 highway to Durban / Johannesburg.
Outside of Howick, take the Tweedie turnoff to Lions River. Turn right onto the R103.
The NMCS is 5 minutes from the N3 turnoff and is well signposted.