Ernest Hemingway once said that “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” Nowhere is this truer than in South Africa. In the wake of apartheid, the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission helped to create a system of restorative justice that in turn led to an incredibly diverse nation achieving unity. Now, it boasts many of the most inclusive communities in Africa.
To see South Africa as it is today is to see something beautiful. From Cape Town’s Pride parade to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown to the Oppikoppi Bushveld Music Festival, you’ll find that every community is truly represented and celebrated in South Africa. There’s something special about that warm South African welcome and you’re sure to encounter some of the most hospitable and convivial people during your visit.
A powerful history
South Africa was home to many giants of the civil liberties movement, from Steve Biko to Desmond Tutu to Nelson Mandela. For those looking to brush up on their history, or perhaps share these powerful lessons with their children, South Africa boasts an incredible array of museums and national monuments. These include the Battlefields where, in the 19th century, this area of northern KwaZulu-Natal saw countless bloody encounters between British, Boer and Zulu armies as well as Fugitive’s Drift, where the Anglo-Zulu war took place in 1879. For those that want to learn more about Mandela, there are a number of sites to be visited. These include Robben Island, where he was imprisoned for 18 of the 27 years he served as well his capture site in Howick, which has been memorialised by a world-renowned sculpture.
Take a stroll through South Africa’s cities and you’ll encounter some of the most eclectic neighbourhoods on the planet. The heady mix of people and cultures in areas such as the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town or Maboneng in Johannesburg surprise and delight in equal measure. For the township experience, Vilakazi in Soweto is a must-see, having housed two Nobel Laureates: Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. However, alongside the historical heritage sites, you’ll notice a new and creative scene percolating to the surface. From street food stalls to craft beer breweries, South Africa is truly a contemporary country.
More to see
From Mitchell’s Plain Township and Soweto to larger cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg, the buildings and streets are often decorated with beautiful, stirring murals. The depictions are a reflection of South Africa itself, whether it's of the country’s beautiful wildlife, its political figures or its vibrant people. There’s also a lively gallery scene and many South Africans have put their personal touch on visual art, not to mention music and film. For those looking to experience a cutting-edge arts scene South Africa is a leading light, with a personality all to itself.