Mandela's Footprints - The Struggle for Freedom

Alexandra Township

Eating vetkoek in Alexandra township
Eating vetkoek in Alexandra Township.
Here we see a vibrant and exciting community. After eating "vet-koek" on the street, we pass the ZCC church explaining itís doctrine and illustrating the differences as well as the similarities of our cultures. We visit "Beirut", the site of massive unrest in the 80ís and 90ís, where we explain the background to and the detail of the violence which swept the townships at this time. We also visit Presidential Flats, Mrs Mbekiís birthplace, the Zulu menís Hostel "Khayalethu", where we see examples of job creation programmes. The history of the Hostels and their role in Apartheid is explained in detail.

We explain how the social structure of the "yard system" and the "gangs" had such an effect on events leading up to change in 1994. We discuss the 1.3 billion rands that has been spent, as a Presidential initiative, on reconstruction and development of Alexandra.

We see Nelson Mandelaís first home in Gauteng, a Traditional Healer, the home of one of the first Gang members of the 40ís, the Community Centre, traditional food preparation of "smileyís" and "skop", one of the prison gang members, the Athletes' Village from African Games, and River Park, the first houses of the "displaced people."

We visit the building used by the "1916 Health Committee", St Hubertís Catholic Church: Holy Cross Convent and the oldest Beer Hall in the township. The "Chinaman", and "The Rocks of Alex" are visited (if we are lucky) and their stories told. We capture the spirit of Alexandra and the struggle of the man on the street to earn a living wage. Throughout the drive through Alexandra we are accompanied by Mphane, a local resident.

Depending upon the interest of clients we also visit an initiative run by Investec Bank and partnered by NOAH, where 395 HIV/Aids orphans are cared for on a daily basis. We can also visit Ba-Amogaleng a pre-school facility where 48 2-6 year olds are cared for by members of the community.

Guests participate in a short ceremony whereby we demonstrate how everyone can contribute towards improving society. The history of the places seen and the township are explained and shown in an interesting and interactive manner, providing an understanding of the diverse cultures of the country.

Liliesleaf Farm, scene of the Rivonia Raid

Rob telling the story of the Rivonia Raid at Liliesleaf Farm
Rob telling the story of the Rivonia Raid at Liliesleaf Farm.
After a brief synopsis of political developments in the 40ís 50ís and early 60ís we visit Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia. This is one of the most important historical sites in the history of the struggle in South Africa.

Liliesleaf was the secret hide-out of the ANC and the Communist party where the final raid led to the leaders of the movement being sentenced to life imprisonment and where the armed wing of the African National Congress was born. The Farm, currently being restored to itís former state and turned into a Museum, was chosen by the Communist Party and the ANC in 1961 as a suitable place to have their meetings to plan the overthrow of the apartheid government. Featured prominently in Nelson Mandelaís book "Long Walk to Freedom", the farm was the scene of the Rivonia Raid in 1963, and was Nelson Mandelís home when on the run from the authorities as the "Black Pimpernel".

The full story of the events leading up to the raid, Nelson Mandelaís life at the farm and the story of the raid are told in detail. We discuss the individuals who participated and the escape of two of the accused, Wolpe and Goldreich. The rooms used are pointed out and the coal bunker, shortwave radio mast, and safe shown. The actual trial and events during the trial are described in broad terms and the events leading up to the sentencing of the Rivonia Trialists detailed. The consequences of the Raid are explained and examined.

The Fort, the Constitutional Court and Prison No. 4

We visit and discuss in detail the Old Fort and "Number Four", the prison in which representatives of practically every political persuasion in our history, as well as common criminals, murderers, rebellion leaders, and innocent people have been incarcerated. Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, General de Wet, Winnie Mandela, Winston Churchill, Joe Slovo, the Foster gang, Daisy de Melker (the infamous murderess), Taffy Long, Stassen and many, many others were imprisoned here during the period 1902-1983.

We visit Nelson Mandelaís hospital ward. We see the Awaiting Trial Block and listen to the protest songs that were sung by the inmates. The cells, the solitary confinement cells, and the communal cells with their exhibits are visited and anecdotes told. We discuss living conditions in the prison. This is a look at the grim and cruel past of South Africa.

We then move into the present and the future. We visit the Constitution Court and discuss the role it plays in our society, itís history and structure, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The building of the court is explained and the role of the Judges in designing the most progressive Court in the world. The structure and architectural aspects are explained and shown. Visitors are taken into the Courtroom and the room is explained. We also visit the Art exhibition as well as the special exhibition to Nelson Mandela.


The FNB stadium under construction
The FNB Stadium under construction.
The tour commences with a brief talk outlining the history which led to the beginnings of Soweto. We pass the area where the people lived in Johannesburg before being forced to move to Soweto as a result of Bubonic Plague in 1903. We then enter Soweto.

We stop outside the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital and explain its significance, and history. (It is possible to visit the Hospital, if arrangements are requested to be made beforehand. This would add about one and a half hours to the tour of Soweto.)
We pass the largest taxi Rank in the world, St. John's Eye Hospital and Vista University. We visit the recently erected memorials to McDonald Mashinini, leader of the June 16th 1976 protest against the use of Afrikaans. We also visit the memorials to protest leader Lilian Ngoyi memorial and Bethuel Mokgosinyana, founder of Orlando Pirates Football Club.

Depending upon the interest of clients we visit SKY project in Kliptown. We then visit Walter Sisulu square and explain about the Freedom Charter, the political growth of the ANC and the PAC, Sharpeville and the Treason Trial. We drive past Winnie Mandelaís residence and visit Vilikazi Street, only street in the world which was home to two Nobel Peace Prize winners, Bishop Tutu and Nelson Mandela. We visit the home of Nelson Mandela and we see the site of the shooting of Hector Pietersen and visit the Hector Pietersen museum.

A visit is then made to the Oppenheimer Memorial, Credo Mutwaís cultural village and the Regina Mundi Church. We exit Soweto passing the FNB Stadium which will be the home of the major games of the 2010 World Cup.


The tour starts with a background history talk given outlining eventsleading to the 1955 forced removals of 55000 people to Soweto. Sophiatown was razed to the ground by the apartheid government and sub-economic housing was built on the land for White people. The area was renamed "Triomf" (Triumph!). It has now been renamed Sophiatown.

We see the Father Trevor Huddlestone Memorial and his Church, tell the stories of the old days and see Bertha street, and the sites of the old Odine Cinema, Gerty street and Toby street, and the home of Dr Xuma, President of the African National Congress in the 1940ís.

We also see the site of the "Hanging Tree", as well as the site of the first Congress of the People meeting that led to the Freedom Charter meeting in Soweto 5 months later.

The Apartheid Museum

During this tour Robin Binckes outlines his own background, having grown up in the Apartheid era. The full tour of the Museum is conducted by Robin with explanations of the exhibits, the thinking of the people at the time as well as some of the history behind Apartheid.

Visitors share in some of the fears and concerns which contributed to the growth and entrenchment of apartheid, through the eyes and experience of someone who benefited from the apartheid era. Robin, who was in the Navy at the time of Sharpville and who became a Peace Monitor in the townships in the 90ís in the build up to the elections recounts his own experiences and subsequent transformation.

The miracle of April 27th, 1994 is explained in detail and the role of people like Nelson Mandela, F.W de Klerk, Bishop Tutu is discussed. The Truth and Reconciliation Hearings and process are also discussed.

Downtown Johannesburg

Downtown Johannesburg, the home of the old mining Houses, the first Stock Exchange, Mandela and Ghandiís offices and the Rand Club is visited while anecdotes are told and a vivid picture of the early years of Johannesburg are painted.

© Spear of the Nation Tours, 2002-.