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Anyone who reaches the age of 95 deserves admiration, but what I admire most about Nelson Mandela is his determination and capacity to forgive. While we may not agree politically, a man who takes a stand for what is right is to be respected, regardless of politics. He demanded justice and equality for all South Africans, and when his imprisonment came to an end, and the goals he fought for were realized, he led by example and worked to ease racial tension and unite the nation. Happy birthday, Mr. Mandela. A grateful world salutes you.

— J.D. Lewis, North Carolina

The one lesson that the world, especially certain American politicians and activists, can glean on the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela is the power of forgiveness and reconciliation. Having become the first freely elected president of South Africa after the fall of the racist apartheid regime, he declined to conduct a campaign of score-settling and reprisals for the pains the black majority suffered for so many years.

Instead Mandela strove to bring the various ethnic groups of the country together, to start afresh, and to try to let go of bitter history.

— Mark Whittington, Texas


From Melissa Shales

Nelson Mandela was born in Mvezu, near Mthatha in the Transkei, then one of the ‘homelands’, now part of the Eastern Cape in South Africa, on 18 July 1918. He belongs to the Thembu tribe, a sub-group of the Xhosa people. He is commonly known to the South African people by the honorific title, Madiba, the name of the 18th century ancestor from whom his Thembu clan is descended.

He is a man of many names. He was originally named Rolihlahla Dalibhunga, but was given the English name Nelson on his first day at school, as this was too hard for his teachers to say.

Brought up at the Thembu royal court, he studied law at the University College of Fort Hare, Unisa (South Africa’s correspondence university) and the University of Witwatersrand, but eventually left without graduating. He eventually qualified as a lawyer in 1952, setting up his own practice with Oliver Tambo.

Nelson joined the African National Congress in 1943, founding the ANC Youth League, with Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu, the following year. In 1952, he became one of the architects of the Youth League’s Campaign for the Defiance of Unjust Laws, a programme of mass civil disobedience. His efforts earned him his first suspended conviction under the Suppression of Communism Act.

In 1956, he was one of 156 defendants named in a massive Treason Trial which dragged on for nearly five years before it eventually collapsed. Meantime he continued to work behind the scenes to create ANC policy. Regularly arrested and banned from attending public meetings, he often travelled in disguise and under assumed names to evade police informers.

Following the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960, the views of Mandela and a number of his colleagues hardened into a belief that only armed struggle would suffice. On 16 December 1961, the anniversary of the Battle of Blood River, a cataclysmic battle between the Boers and Zulus in 1838, a new military organisation, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK; Spear of the Nation), was set up. Mandela was its commander-in-chief. Over the next two years they carried out over 200 attacks and sent some 300 people abroad for military training.

Travelling out of the country on false papers in 1962, Mandela was arrested on his return and convicted to five years in prison. He made his first trip to Robben Island, but was soon transferred back to Pretoria to join ten other defendants, facing new charges of sabotage. During the eight-month long Rivonia Trial – named after the Rivonia district where the MK had their safe house, Liliesleaf Farm – Mandela made an impassioned speech from the dock. It echoed around the world:

‘I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die'.

The trial ended with eight of the accused, including Mandela found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. His lengthy sojourn on Robben Islandhad begun.

In 1982, after 18 years, Mandela was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town and from there, in December 1988, to Victor Verster Prison in Paarl in the Cape Winelands. He rejected numerous offers to recognise the legitimacy of the so-called Homelands and go back to settle in ‘exile’ in the Transkei. He also refused to renounce violence, refusing to negotiate at all until he was a free man.

In 1985 however he began ‘talks about talks’ with the then Justice Minister, Kobie Coetsee, from his prison cell. A secret method of communication with the ANC leadership in Lusaka was eventually devised. On 11 February 1990, he was released from prison, after 27 years. His euphoric speech from the balcony of Cape Town City Hall and triumphant shout of ‘Amandla!’ (‘Power!’) was a defining moment in African history. Talks could begin in earnest.

In 1993, Mandela and President FW de Klerk jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to bring about the end of the apartheid regime. The following year, on 27 April, 1994, South Africa held its first truly democratic elections. The ANC swept to victory.

On 10 May, 1994, Nelson Mandela was sworn in as South Africa’s first black, democratically elected President, talking immediately of reconciliation.

‘Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign.’

Mandela has been married three times. He married his first wife, Evelyn, in 1944 and had four children before divorcing in 1958. The following year he married Winnie Madikizela, with whom he had two children. Winnie was massively responsible for creating the Mandela legend through her robust campaign to free Nelson from Robben Island. The marriage couldn’t survive Winnie’s other activities however. They separated in 1992, after her conviction for kidnapping and accessory to assault, divorcing in 1996. His third marriage, on his 80th birthday, in July 1998, was to Graça Machel, the widow of Mozambiquan President Samora Machel. She became the only woman in the world to marry two Presidents of different nations. They are still married.

Mandela stepped down as President in 1999, after one term in office. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001 and officially retired from public life in 2004. However he continues to work quietly on behalf of his charities, the Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Childrens’ Fund and the Mandela-Rhodes Foundation.

In 2005 he intervened on behalf of AIDS victims in South Africa, admitting that his son had died of the disease. And for his 89th birthday he founded The Elders, a group of elder statesmen including Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu amongst other global luminaries, to offer ‘guidance on the world’s toughest problems’.

He published his autobiography, Long Road to Freedom, in 1995. The Nelson Mandela Museum first opened in 2000

Personalities in the News


by Justina Okpanku
The South African tourism industry, weeks after Madiba’s death, is mobilizing to create tours to properly present the life story of Nelson Mandela.  Reports say without Mandela, the vibrant tourism industry in South Africa today might not exist. The fall of the apartheid regime and the resulting opening of the country to the world came about through the combined efforts of countless people.
But most South Africans believe that without Mandela’s leadership, without him bringing his moral authority to bear, the change could not have been brought about without a brutal and possibly extended civil war.
“Nelson Mandela single-handedly put South Africa on the map for billions of people around the world,” said Thulani Nzima, CEO of South African Tourism. “Mandela opened up our beautiful country, once a pariah state, to the rest of the world and his name alone has attracted millions of tourists to South Africa every year, wanting to walk in his footsteps.”
It takes little effort to see the historical legacy of Mandela in South Africa. He is lauded and memorialized throughout the country. But for those who want to dig deeper into his legacy and his personal history, there are tour operators who offer programs designed expressly for that purpose.
Meanwhile, the package, titled “Mandela’s Journey to Freedom,” is a 10-day tour that traces some aspects of Mandela’s life.
It includes a cultural tour of some townships in the Cape Town area; a tour of Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned for most of his 27 years as a political prisoner; visits to the Hector Pieterson Museum and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg; and a visit to the military headquarters of the African National Congress, Mandela’s political party.
Deluxe accommodations are provided at the Protea Hotel Victoria Junction in Cape Town, and the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice in Johannesburg’s Melrose Arch. The package is priced from $2,599 per person including air from the U.S., for example.
“As a South African, I’m incredibly proud to introduce the ‘Mandela’s Journey to Freedom’ vacation package in conjunction with the release of this important movie,” said Terry von Guilleaume, president of SAA Vacations. “We’ve taken great care to include those places where key moments of Nelson Mandela’s anti-apartheid struggle took place, including Liliesleaf, where the infamous raid was carried out; as well as Robben Island,  where you visit his prison cell and can imagine the isolation that prisoners felt.
“We’re also very excited about the release of the film ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,’ and are proud to have also partnered with the film’s distributors, The Weinstein Company, to raise funds to benefit the Nelson Mandela Foundation.”
Africa Travel is offering a programme called Walk in the Footsteps of Nelson Mandela, which combines a tracing of his footsteps with a safari in the bush.
The itinerary includes a visit to a township in the Cape Town area with encounters with local residents shops, a local bar, and a visit with a traditional Xhosa healer; a tour of Robben Island; a lesson in playing the djembe drum; and a “taste safari” of African cuisine.
The eight-day programme is priced from $3,565 per person, including three nights accommodations in Cape Town; two nights in Johannesburg; and two nights in Karongwe Private Game Reserve.
Great Safaris is offering a Mandela themed tour called Madiba’s Journey: In Nelson Mandela’s Footprints. The program includes an exploration of parts of Cape Town that figure particularly into Mandela’s life story, such as Robben Island, Parliament, City Hall and Grand Parade.
The tour also visits Soweto, Vilakazi Street, Nelson Mandela House Museum, Kliptown, the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill and Lilies Leaf. The package is priced from $3,495 double occupancy, land only.

Tourism Legislation

One of the challenges that beset the Branch was to entrench proper understanding of legislation in the tourism industry by all players. This because past pieces of legislation were skewed and biased towards a minority few, hence aggressive resistance to the new order. As a consequence efforts were made by others to discredit tourism legislation as anti-growth, and retired it as doomed to deplete arrivals to South Africa's shores.

 Hence the challenge was to be unrepentant about driving strict adherence to policy stipulations, no matter how unpopular they would be with others. Again the "Blood, Sweat and Tears" approach became handy as Dr Matlou and his charges fought battles akin to that of "David and Goliath" in order to navigate resilience amidst this resistance and at times hostile media. Indeed this determination has delivered handsome fruit!

"Dr Matlou's contribution to the tourism industry is incalculable. He is a living legend of all the milestones of post-apartheid policy formulation, rooted in the wisdom of responsible and sustainable tourism development," comments Advocate Cawe Mahlati, Chief Executive Officer of Gauteng Tourism Authority.


The tourism tapestry in South Africa has for a long time been characterized by a number of unwelcome anomalies in terms of equity, ownership, demographic spread and inequitable business landscape. It would thus be expected that any attempt to obviate this misdemeanor and align it with the brand-new South African democratic dispensation would be met with fierce negativity. We have spoken of two miracles that have transformed South Africa: the miracle of political transformation, that enabled the nation to forgive the past and accept a new political order; and the miracle of economic stability, which resulted in reduced inflation and a healthy debt-to-GDP ratio.

Our third miracle needed to be that of economic democratization. We needed to transform the tourism economy so that it is fairly shared among all population groups, unemployment is reduced and poverty is eradicated" wryly noted Dr Matlou, recalling the amount of work that was put in towards aligning the tourism face to make it what it is today.

Sindiswa Nhlumayo, Head of the BEE Charter Council at the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) confirms the rationale behind government's aggressive attendance to transformation: "We see BEE as a benefit to the economy and business in South Africa. BEE enables economic growth and by bringing on an empowerment partner will give businesses access to new markets, which in turn will lead to business growth".

Coordination at different tiers of government

In 1994 the main challenge was to dismantle the old "apartheid structures" and reorganize them in an inclusive, democratic and egalitarian orientation. The same principle was called for within the tourism sector. Furthermore, it became painfully evident that provincial tourism structures found themselves desperately wanting in terms of understanding their roles and responsibilities. DEAT had to lead the painstakingly long-drawn process of putting provinces on a wining streak!

Recognizing the tireless work that is attributable to Matlou in the above regard, Mr Ndabo Khoza, Chief Executive Officer of KwaZulu Natal Tourism Authority notes: "As Tourism KwaZulu-Natal we have been privileged to have had the opportunity to work with Dr Matlou for a while. He has managed to put the tourism agenda to a wider audience, particularly public sector stakeholders".

Furthermore, there are now coordinated approaches to tackle issues that negatively affect tourism such as VISA restrictions, safety and security, transport and airlift etc. The impact of this is monumental as all stakeholders began to take ownership of the tourism value chain and are committed to its maintenance and growth.

For instance, thus far, the implementation of the airlift strategy, the result of a strong partnership between DEAT, South African Tourism, the Department of Transport and the private sector, has shown impressive increases in capacity to bring tourists to South Africa. Between September 2006 and January this year, rights for almost 1,4 million additional seats per year were secured.

Profiling Tourism Internationally

In more ways than one South Africa has emerged as a recognizable voice in the international tourism arena - vehemently pushing for Africa to be accorded equal status in terms of tourism marketing and development as with other first-world countries. "Africa as a continent has so much to offer. The splendour of Africa with its unbelievable potential is highly desired and has the opportunity to position itself amidst this high growth global economic activity as a prime global tourist destination. After all, Africa is still custodian to the wild lands and cultures and has a deep concern for nature in its natural form" said Mr Ousmane Ndiaye, Regional Representative for Africa at the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Africa's tourism growth is, however, hindered by various factors. These factors include an inadequately developed product and service base, a poor perception of the safety of tourists, civil wars and conflicts, often lacking infrastructure and delivery infrastructure, insufficient international and especially domestic marketing, a shortage of well-trained frontline tourism staff, a limitation of international flights, sectoral fragmentation and weak intra and inter linkages within the private and public sectors.

In the above regard South Africa called for the restructuring of the 157 countries and 300 Affiliate Members of the UNWTO to put Africa's development firmly on its agenda. Even if South Africa failed to be elected as Secretary-General of the UNWTO owing to inadequate time to campaign, its manifesto was endorsed by many member states, especially noting the motion that the term of office of the Secretary-General should not be more than twice.

"Dr Matlou supported our nomination for the UNWTO Ulysses award. As we speak he has recommended that we become associate members of the UNWTO" again saluted Mr Ndabo Khoza.

UNWTO grants the Ulysses Prize to a distinguished scholar for an outstanding contribution to knowledge in tourism, while the Awards are bestowed on projects undertaken by public institutions in tourism which merit distinction for their innovative contributions to tourism policy, governance, and areas of tourism such as the environmental, new technologies, among others.

In this case Tourism KwaZulu-Natal scooped a First Prize, Award for Innovation in Tourism Governance, which has placed its focus on the impacts of tourism and on tourism as a tool for development, involving local communities.

"The African continent can also do much better than the approximately 37 million arrivals or around 4,5% of the 806 million global arrivals (2005). Africa received only a small share, 3,1%, of the US$680 billion spent globally (2005) by tourists. The travel and tourism sector can become Africa's strongest economic sector for direct foreign investment in future", reasons Dr Matlou.

The adoption of the NEPAD Tourism Action is in many ways a product of relentless work that was undertaken by South Africa.

On another front, Dr Matlou played a leading role in positioning the Regional Tourism Organizations of Southern Africa (RETOSA), to market and promote the Region in close cooperation with the Region's national tourist organizations and the private sector.

Attests Mr Francis Mfune, RETOSA's Acting Executive Director: "Dr Patrick Matlou was an active member of the RETOSA Board. He will specifically be remembered for his untiring and meticulous guidance to RETOSA to develop a Monitoring and Evaluation System (M & E) with performance indicators for Monitoring the Institution's performance".

Dr Matlou's passion for Africa can be found in the brief resume below:

He completed his primary-school education in Nigeria and then moved to complete his secondary education and first degree (Political Science and Geography) in Ghana in 1979. His dissertation was a comparative analysis of the Battle of Iswandlwana (1879), the Sharpeville crisis (1960) and the Soweto riots (1976).

He then went to England and completed a Masters in International Relations in 1980; his thesis dealt with the defunct East African Economic Community. He worked in Liberia as a lecturer in Political Science at the University of Liberia from 1981 to 1986 and returned to England where he completed his PhD in 1992, specializing on Botswana's refugee policy.

Dr Matlou returned to South Africa in September 1994 after working for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Kenya.

Message to the Tourism Industry

"I am indeed humbled to have been, in a small way part of a process that has established groundwork for tourism in South Africa to thrive to greater heights. However, my message to the industry and those that will take after us is that we should not rest on our laurels and think we have won the battle. I propose that a bigger war to be won is that of transformation, so that all citizens of this country derive an equal share from the tourism pie, so that through tourism our lot is emancipated from the shackles of poverty, unemployment and lack of education," noted Dr Matlou.

Encouraging officials to be steadfast and committed to service, he said, "You should always count yourselves lucky that you are able to go to work in this very competitive industry. There are many who would cherish the opportunity of finding employment, who would rather work for free in order to gain experience. Always cling dear to your work and aspire to achieve one goal everyday &endash; contributing positively to the life of South Africans, from whose tax you derive a salary".


At the close of his 5 June 2007 National Assembly debate on the Budget Vote of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism declared, "…None of the achievements that I have spoken of today would be possible without the hard work and dedication of these outstanding individuals whose commitment to consolidating the achievements of our first decade of freedom is without question".

It is tempting, very tempting to suggest that the Minister was actually referring to the fact that tourism in South Africa is basking in the glory and limelight brought about by: "Blood, Sweat and Tears"!

Dr Patrick Matlotleng Matlou is to leave DEAT at the end of August 2007 to pursue other interests.

International Tourism Relations


Tel: +27 12 310 3940 - Fax: +27 12 322 5754 - Mobile: +27 73 887 0222 - E-mail: erihlamvu@deat.gov.za