Marching to Pretoria, After Mandela’s Passing
Although one of the three capital cities in South Africa, Pretoria is regarded as the country’s de facto national capital. It’s a destination in the peak season of November-March, which are the summer months.
Pretoria is representative of most of South Africa, with its multi-ethnic culture and various languages and religions. And here’s an interesting piece of trivia: there’s a song about this city that connects to the first line of a Beatles song.
“I Am the Walrus,” a John Lennon composition which starts with the words “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together,” recalls the opening words of “Marching to Pretoria,” which are “I’m with you and you’re with me and we are all together.”
Since the death of freedom activist Nelson Mandela, there is sure to be renewed interest in traveling to this particular historic destination. Here are few reasons why.
Nelson Mandela statue
Even if you’ve visited Pretoria in the past, there’s a new reason to return. Mandela’s life-like bronze-plated statue was placed at the Union Buildings overlooking Arcadia in Pretoria on December 16,.
Measuring nine meters high, with outstretched hands reminiscent of this selfless leader’s ability to reach out and touch all walks of life from around the world, the sculpture was created by South African sculptors Andre Prinsloo and Ruhuan Janse van Vuuren.
President Jacob Zuma said at the annual Reconciliation Day celebrations in Pretoria that the Mandela statue will stand the test of time and remind the South Africa nation and the world of the values of its subject, namely: “unity, reconciliation, compassion and ubuntu.”
The impressive Union Buildings designed by Sir Herbert Baker are considered one of Pretoria’s premiere attractions. The crescent-shaped complex was built in 1910 to house the administrative offices of the Union of South Africa.
This is where Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the South Africa’s first democratically elected president.
Mahlamba Ndlopfu, or the the Presidential House, was formerly the residence of the prime minister, but that position was abolished in 1984. The structure became the presidential residence.
The estate was designed by architect Gerard Moerdijk, who was also acclaimed for designing the Voortrekker Monument. Translated into English, “Mahlamba Ndlopfu” means “the new dawn.” Mandela was its most famous resident.
Freedom Park is a hilltop complex in Salvokop that memorializes the nation’s historical struggles. Artifacts and memorials tell stories about South Africans in World I and the Boer Wars, and famous citizens such as Mandela who fought against apartheid.
Online booking agencies
Several online booking agencies will allow you to review and book hotel accommodations online. At SA-Venues.com, you can also book transport, conferences, wedding venues, and tours of all of the landmarks highlighted above.
Options for Pretoria accommodation include lodges, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, holiday homes, and apartment rentals for longer-term stays — and all are registered and accredited.
If you’d like to travel in the footsteps of this great leader, you might want to consider adding Pretoria to your “bucket list” of must-see places.