30 April 2010 - 47 years ago, the world’s most famous anti-apartheid activist was arrested near Howick in Kwazulu-Natal.
At the side of the road on the R103 near Lions River is a plaque which marks this exact site, and which is known as the Mandela Capture Monument. The site itself was erected as a heritage site by AMAFA, the provincial heritage conservation agency for Kwazulu-Natal, and is recipient to thousands of Madiba fans and historians yearly.
Befitting of the leader’s famous statement: “True reconciliation does not consist in merely forgetting the past...” the site will soon receive an upgrade commissioned by the uMngeni Municipality. In addition to improving the appeal of the site, a farm opposite the site has been secured with the intention of developing it into a cultural village to be named after and in honour of Nelson Mandela.
Global engineering, management and specialist technical services group, Aurecon, in co-operation with Boogertman & Partners, will complete Architectural Designs for the upgrade with inputs from the Nelson Mandela Museum, AMAFA, National Heritage Council and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, amongst others. “The project is of national and international importance in that it will serve as a popular historical tourism attraction for local and international visitors,” believes Aurecon project manager, Marietjie van Zyl.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the vision for this village is the way in which its many parts form a cohesive whole. The gardens are integral to the concept and are envisaged to be the ‘glue’ that will knit the complex together.
The most prominent aspect of the village will be the heritage museum, positioned in close proximity to the monument with a viewing platform that hovers towards it. The educational aspects of the scheme are found in the next immediate zone away from the monument in the form of a multipurpose space to be used as an educational venue. An amphitheatre links the museum and this space, whilst the hotel complex is positioned furthest away from the monument. Retail and restaurant facilities are also found in this zone, all arranged around a court that integrates the spaces together.
The parking is separated from the courts by a small level difference, thus separating vehicular from pedestrian traffic, whilst the hotel complex is nestled into the existing wooded area, away from the commercial aspect of the project, providing much-needed privacy.
One of the many challenges this project poses is that the site was obtained before the necessary feasibility studies were carried out. A wetlands delineation, conducted by Terratest (Pty) Ltd, has since revealed that the site harbours permanent wetland conditions and a 20 m wetland buffer which will affect both the planning and layout of the development. In addition, although geological surveys concluded that the site is suitable for the proposed development, measures need to be taken to address certain constraints associated with existing geological conditions.
Completion of the village is scheduled for 2011 and is expected to usher in a new era of appreciation for the heritage Madiba left his country. The development will not only serve as a monument to our past, but also the future that arose from this respected leader’s journey.
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