Artworks mark the years Mandela gave to struggle

Xolani Kondile

TWO years of planning, R11-million in the commissioning of artworks, and months of painstaking work by almost 70 dedicated artists is finally about to be revealed to the Nelson Mandela Bay public.

The city’s new tourism icon, a heritage walk called Route 67, will open to the public on Friday, in time for Heritage Day on Saturday. The project is a route which visitors can walk or drive, and runs from Central to Uitenhage, and along the way shows off 67 various artworks depicting struggle icons and exhibits relating to the city’s heritage.

Spearheaded by the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) – the municipality’s urban renewal arm – the project saw 67 local artists and students from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University commissioned to create 67 different pieces of artworks and mosaics.

Mxolisi Dolla Sapeta and Anthony Harris are two of the Bay artists commissioned for the project. Each artwork is a representation of a year Nelson Mandela dedicated to the struggle for liberation, and for a non-racial, non-sexist society.

Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism head Mandlikazi Skefile said the route would be opened at a time when the city was badly in need of a tourism boost.

“I am very excited about the launch of this route. It really adds to the tourism attractions in the city, and comes at a time when we are experiencing a decline in the city’s tourism attractions [Bayworld and the Apple Express have closed in recent months].

“The route speaks directly to our Nelson Mandela city brand. We have lacked such a product in the past,” Skefile said.

“Now people can walk the route which tells the story of our heritage. The beauty of this route is that it brings up the rich colonial history that we have as well. It shows two histories – the colonial history and the history of Nelson Mandela himself.”

Skefile said she was looking forward to walking the route, and encouraged Bay residents to take some time to do the same.

 “It will really be enlightening, I think,” she said.

MBDA spokesman Chuma Myoli said: “Route 67 is not only a tourism product. It’s also a heritage route which tells the story not only of Nelson Mandela Bay, but that of the country. What better month to launch it than during Heritage Month [September]?

“The project cost R11-million and forms part of the Donkin Reserve upgrade. The public is welcome to view the artworks at the Donkin.”

 The rest of the artworks and mosaics were strategically placed along Route 67, she said.

 This runs from the Campanile, the Donkin Reserve, the Athenaeum and South End to Uitenhage and the Red Location Museum.

 Each artwork was unique and special in its own right, Myoli said.

“To choose one or five [favourites] is near impossible,” she said.

The launch of Route 67 will take place at Market Square in Central on Friday. This would be followed by a tour of the route, Myoli said.

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