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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 November 2007, 09:24 GMT
Diary of a South African roadtrip
Top left: Peter Biles with students; bottom left: a Udaba Band member; middle top: street sign; middle bottom: voter in Peddie; top right: students;  bottom right: Premier Nosimo Balindlela

The BBC's Peter Biles is keeping a diary of his travels across South Africa examining issues facing the governing African National Congress (ANC) ahead of its major leadership contest and national conference in December:

FRIDAY 2 NOVEMBER

Qunu, Transkei

This is a long journey in one day - some 800km (500 miles) from King William's Town to Pietermaritzburg.

But there is an opportunity to stop in Qunu - the small Transkei town where former President, Nelson Mandela, grew up.

The countryside in Qunu, Transkei
Rural Qunu has remained close to Nelson Mandela's heart

The large red-tiled house on the right-hand side of the main road is the home that Mandela had built after he was released from prison.

It is apparently similar in design to the former Victor Verster Prison near Paarl where he spent the last year and a half of his imprisonment.

Here at Qunu in the 1920s, Mandela enjoyed herding his father's cattle and sheep, and he has always insisted that at heart, he is just "a country boy".

The Qunu residence is certainly in the country, surrounded by rolling hills and small rural homesteads dotted across the landscape.

In Qunu itself, which is barely signposted, there is the Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Centre where young South Africans can learn about the history of the struggle against apartheid.

There is a fascinating photographic exhibition on display.

I always admire the black and white stills taken by Jurgen Schadeburg who photographed Mandela and his ANC comrades extensively in the 1950s.

In the nearby town of Umtata, the Nelson Mandela Museum houses a collection of gifts and honours that Mandela has received during his travels around the world.

Qunu and Umtata are a long way off the beaten track for foreign tourists.

It is a shame more people are not able to enjoy this element of the Mandela heritage.


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