New National Monument Marks the Capture Site of Nelson Mandela.

On the 5th of August 1962, approximately 5 kilometers outside Howick, armed apartheid police flagged down a vehicle driven by Nelson Mandela, pretending to be a chauffeur.  He just returned from a clandestine visit to ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli to report on his African quest.  It was here where Nelson Mandela was finally captured which lead to his disappearance from the public eye for the next 27 years.

Nelson Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ began on that beautiful but significant piece of land outside Howick on that day.  This irrevocably changed the history of South Africa as well as the future of Nelson Mandela.  That piece of land is today the resting place of a beautiful sculpture made possible by the Department of Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), the uMgeni Municipality, the Apartheid Museum and the KwaZulu Natal Heritage Council (AMAFA), in association with the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.  It was inaugurated and unveiled by President Jacob Zuma on the 4th of August 2012.

The impressive sculpture by artist Marco Cianfanelli consists of 50 steel poles between 8 and 10 meters tall, arranged in a pattern that allows the viewer a flat image of the face of Nelson Mandela facing West, when approached from the foot path leading down towards it, exactly 35 meters away.  From that position the laser-cut mild steel poles line up to create the illusion of a perfectly flat image.

The 50 steel columns represent the 50 years since his capture.  They also portray the idea of many making a whole.

Technical information of the sculpture and memorial site:
Artist:  Marco Cianfanelli
Release:  2012
Finish:  Painted, laser-cut mild steel & steel tube construction – to be rusted.
Width:  5.19 meters
Height:  9.48 meters
Length:  20.8 meters

Project and Site Development:  Christopher Till, Director – Apartheid Museum.
Concept Design (2005):  Marco Cianfanelli and Jeremy Rose.
Artist:  Marco Cianfanelli.
Architect/artistic collaborator:  Jeremy Rose of Mashabane Rose Architects.
Project Concept and Commissioning Agent:  Culture Mechanics.
Project Manager:  Brendan Copestake.

Structural Engineer:  John Duncan.
Civil Engineer:  Geoff Boutell.
Steel Fabricator:  Jurie van der Westhuizen.
Earthworks Contractor:  Jaya Naidoo.
Consulting Fabricator:  Argoweld.
Justdigit Landscaping:  Natasha Strong.

On a recent trip to Durban I decided to go and look for this magnificent piece of art.  I couldn’t find any signage to it along the R103 except at the entrance to the premises when you have already located it but it was well worth the effort.  It is less than 5km’s from the N3 highway from Johannesburg to Durban, regardless of which off-ramp you take.

Proceed north along the N3 and take the ‘Howick/Midmar R103’ off-ramp.  At the Stop sign turn left and proceed past the dam and through the Midmar area.  You are now in the Natal Midlands and on the ‘Midlands Meander’.  One of the places to visit on the Meander is Chocolatier on your left.  Proceed past that and just after the bend, look out for the sign on your right that reads ‘Mandela Capture Point’.

DIRECTIONS From Johannesburg:
Proceed south along the N3 and take the ‘Howick/Tweedie’ off ramp.  At the Stop, turn right and proceed till you see the sign on your right (just after the bend), that reads ‘Mandela Capture Point’.

There are no signage once you arrived to tell you where to park but you have 2 choices.  You can proceed all the way to the top and park outside the buildings where the Museum is, the flower shop that sells the actual ‘Mandela Proteas’ (the most beautiful Proteas I have ever seen), a bookshop where Mandela’s books are sold and the ‘Truth Café’ where you can have something to eat and drink, run by people who are quite dedicated to quality and service.  From there you then walk down to the sculpture along a paved foot path, back in the direction of the road.  The other option is to turn into the premises and find parking along the actual drive way (just on the side) of where the traffic comes past to get in or out.  This is not an ideal spot but when we arrived we had no idea there is better parking up top and we found at least 15 other vehicles there already.  The driveway is anyway so narrow that you can’t turn around there.  You have to proceed to the top to turn around.  However, it was all worth the effort and a great place to stop over en route to Johannesburg or Durban.

The footpath on the way to the sculture where one can see the 50 vertical poles but nothing makes sense yet.

Only once you are in a specific position, 35 meters from the sculpture the elements line up to form the full picture. Regrettably the choice of material for the plaque results in it being virtually impossible to read.  However, the position where the plaque is mounted in the ground, is exactly where one should stand for the picture to line up and form a whole.

At a closer view one can see the laser-cut steel segments that are mounted to the poles to form the actual image.

Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Apartheid Museum, Marco Cianfanelli and Jeremy Rose, Jeremy Rose of Mashabane Rose Architects, Culture Mechanics, Justdigit Landscaping, Argoweld, Jurie van der Westhuizen, Geoff Boutell, John Duncan, Apartheid Museum, KwaZulu Natal Heritage Council (AMAFA), Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Long Walk to Freedom, ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli, 5th of August 1962, Department of Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), uMgeni Municipality, James Dekker FOTOMAN Photography, Travel Photographer, Landscape Photographer, Destination PhotographerThe Truth Cafe on the premises provides some welcome refreshments after the walk to the sculpture.  It is a privately owned coffee shop on the premises.