Throughout turbulent times in global history, there have been many brave men and women who have shown leadership and strength, fighting to promote peace. In South Africa, we are indeed fortunate to have four such heroes hail from our land. Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk and Desmond Tutu are Nobel Peace Prize winners that deserve to be celebrated, daily.
Do we know enough about them? We can never know enough about them.
But, rather than the traditional reading of historical material, is there no other, more interactive way, of exploring their lives which stand as messages to the world? There is.
Museums are spaces that bring history alive. Like history in motion, they tell moving stories in ways that touch us and stay with us forever. I recently visited a unique exhibition at the 1860 Heritage Centre in Durban, honouring the lives of two of South Africa’s Nobel laureates Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela alongside Indian passive resistance icon Mahatma Gandhi.
What is the common thread between the three? These are men who worked tirelessly for the good of the people, without any reward or expectation, and at great personal sacrifice. These pictures indeed speak a thousand words…
This year, South Africa commemorates what would have been Mandela’s 100th birthday. And amidst this, the nation is grieving the death of his first wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. No exhibition of Mandela would be complete without her, and the 1860 Heritage Centre captures this too.
This picture speaks truth to power like no other – that moment when Mandela was released in 1990. It’s as if I can hear him say “Amandla!”. And it also reminds of me of the hardships that the now late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and her children endured while Mandela was behind bars. This picture is as much a symbol of her courage as it is of Mandela’s.
As parents, we often wonder, how do we get our children to understand this rich legacy and how do we make it relevant for them at an early age… For those not able to visit Robben Island and walk in the footsteps of Mandela as a political prisoner, the 1860 Heritage Centre in Durban offers this experience of a lifetime. Mandela’s cell is replicated – with only the bare necessities that he lived with. I can already picture myself explaining to my child that this is the small space that Mandela had as his home for almost three decades. It’s sure to evoke many emotions about his strength of character and strength of mind.
The 1860 Heritage Centre is a treasure trove of history. It chronicles the journey, not only of the Indian indentured labourers to South Africa, but the journeys of heroes like Mandela, Gandhi and Luthuli, who have changed our South Africa as we know it today. You may have driven past or you may not even know of the centre. The centre’s doors are always open to the public. And, to highlight their work, they will be hosting an open day this Saturday, the 8th of April from 9am to 5pm. It’s your opportunity to know your history.
For more information, you can follow them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/1860heritagecentre/
Or you can contact Yatin Singh on 031 309 1858