CONGRATULATIONS to Wilene Venter & Mekylo Ram! They each win a sets of five x day passes (valued at R1000), complements of Kingfisher FM & Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism.
The day pass gives you access to a whole range of activities & discounts. It is a fun & affordable way to travel Nelson Mandela Bay.
LOCATION: Nelson Mandela Bay is located in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It is 763 km east of Cape Town.
DATE VISITED: 14 & 15 September 2012 (Spring)
WHAT WE DROVE: An Alfa Romeo Giulietta complements of Maritime Motors
WHAT WE DID: We spent time at the Cuyler Manor Museum, The VW Autopavilion, The Uitenhage Concentration Camp Memorial Site & Memory Factory, as well as Wild Cats World, Spotted Cats Conservation, Daniell Cheetah Project.
WHERE WE STAYED: The little house on the not so little hill
WHO GUIDED US: Craig Duffield from Mosaic Tourism
RECOMENDATION: Nelson Mandela Bay is the ultimate family destination. Often Uitenhage would be left off the itinerary, but you cannot miss the VW Autopavilion or Wild Cats World. For the VW Autopavilion you need to plan at least an entire morning or afternoon. For the Cuyler Manor Museum, you should make arrangements if you want to visit it on a weekend.
WEBSITE: Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism
Who would imagine running into a family of clowns at a war-memorial?
Or meeting a Xhosa woman who is immensely knowledgeable & passionate about Dutch history?
Or flying across black top in an Italian Car to kneel down and rub a fully grown Cheetah?
This weekend we explored the Uitenhage side of Nelson Mandela Bay.
We did all of the above.
Driving the very fast, very sporty Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Uitenhage seemed a little closer to Port Elizabeth this Friday afternoon.
It managed our entire Tribe.
Minus the pram.
Without any strain.
I can imagine, with only one or two children, it would manage even the pram.
This car makes you feel young.
It was in noticeable contrast to the Cape-Dutch buildings & old world lawns of the Cuyler Manor Museum where Rosie Kula greeted us.
She has been with the museum for 25 years.
She knows the stories of Genl. Jacob (Armstrong) Cuyler, as if she was there herself.
Watching while his grandmother spoilt him.
Eavesdropping on the conversation where he declares that he will no longer be an Armstrong, but a Cuyler.
Smiling knowingly when he is upset as they send him out to pasture on a stipend instead of a pension.
Some people are always entitled.
Rosie has been serving.
For almost three decades.
From the Cuyler Manor Museum we made our way to the VW Autopavilion.
A modern-day ‘museum’, showcasing the work of Volkswagen in South Africa, since shortly after the Second World War.
There is a new Beetle cut in half.
The last Beetle ever built in South Africa, perfectly restored.
And Herbie, with his distinctive ’53’.
There are simulators.
Vehicles on display from every period.
Even a green screen & film studio.
The VW Autopavilion is open on weekdays & every first Saturday of the month.
The Cuyler Manor Museum is open on weekdays.
On Saturday Craig from Mosaic Tourism find us activities available on weekends.
We make our way to the war-memorial site of the Uitenhage Concentration camp.
It was erected in the 70’s when a previous government made history its servant.
Making heroes of woman, children & old men who died in captivity during another senseless war.
War is always senseless.
On all the pages of recorded history I’ve not encountered one which served more than it destroyed.
Or set free.
The English War (1899 – 1902) could’ve been avoided.
Some wish to call this war the ‘South African War’, playing on the fact that it affected all people in South Africa.
I find this interesting, for there was no ‘South Africa’ in the sense of today’s South Africa, at the time & the name is just confusing.
I prefer the term ‘English War’ for, if we hope to be honest, we should admit that it was a war waged by Britain.
British expansionist ideas (notably propagated by Cecil Rhodes) as well as disputes over uitlander political and economic rights resulted in the failed Jameson Raid of 1895.
As tensions escalated, political manoeuvrings and negotiations attempted to reach compromise on the issues of the rights of the uitlanders within the South African Republic, control of the gold mining industry, and the British desire to incorporate the Transvaal and the Orange Free State into a federation under British control. Given the British origins of the majority of uitlanders and the ongoing influx of new uitlanders into Johannesburg, the Boers recognised that granting full voting rights to the uitlanders would eventually result in the loss of ethnic Boer control in the South African Republic.
To Lord Milner’s satisfaction, the June 1899 negotiations in Bloemfontein failed, and in September 1899 British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain demanded full voting-rights and representation for the uitlanders residing in the Transvaal. Paul Kruger, the President of the South African Republic, issued an ultimatum on 9 October 1899, giving the British government 48 hours to withdraw all their troops from the borders of both the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, failing which the Transvaal, allied to the Orange Free State, would declare war on the British government. The British government rejected the South African Republic’s ultimatum, resulting in the South African Republic and Orange Free State declaring war on Britain.
If the leaders of the Boer Republics were willing to talk, negotiate & find a compromise, it could’ve been different.
There are no heroes.
Even if we wished there were.
We’ve stumbled upon some of this history in Bloemfontein.
And in the Red Location-precinct, just a week ago.
During the English War Guerilla Warfare was utilized for the very first time in the modern history of man-kind.
Changing the way things were.
In small groups.
The English answer to this was a burnt-earth.
Women & children incarcerated in designated restricted access areas.
The thinking: you take away their resources, they will give up.
Which eventually happened.
After thousands died.
Almost a century later our country had more of the same.
In small groups.
They were already living in designated restricted access areas.
Some spent decades in jail.
And Nelson Mandela negotiated.
And no more died.
The link between the English War (1899 -1902) and the Freedom Struggle lies deeper than that.
The Uitenhage Concentration Camp was the only of its kind on which prisoners were not housed in tents, but in corrugated iron buildings.
Emily Hobhouse had made a bit of a stink about Kitcheners’ methods.
Illusions had to be maintained.
A flagship project was created.
For all to see.
For journalists to visit.
For pictures to be taken.
Here, the food was abundant.
The housing more comfortable.
The water clean.
The sanitation proper.
And then the war ended.
And the victors moved the red corrugated iron buildings of the Uitenhage Concentration Camp to the New Brighton Location.
And they rusted.
Red in the sun.
And Red Location was born.
More of the same.
For so often Governments do not govern to the benefit of all the people of the land.
A civilized lot we are.
We’ve convinced ourselves.
It was Hoby the Clown who related all of this to us.
This story of Uitenhage’s Concentration Camp & its connection to the Red Location.
He is married to Popsi.
They have a son & a daughter.
We’ve been to many war memorial sites.
Never before have we been met by Clowns.
Hoby & Popsi & their children run the Memory Factory.
A touch farm.
They’re eager to talk about the past.
And ‘stupidly’ following your heart.
Against all odds.
Living a life less ordinary.
I admire them, I think as we get into the Alfa Romeo Giulietta to make our way to Wild Cats World for lunch and an extraordinary experience with spotted cats.
The drive is easy.
Open road, quickly eaten by the Italian Automobile’s appetite.
Lunch is simple.
Then Maxie takes us through this project’s visitor area.
We meet Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Lynx and Genet & Tierboskat.
And along the way, in order to pay vet’s bills & feed bills & staff salaries, we get the opportunity to see them.
We are delighted that a project such as this exist.
We are saddened that our world has come to this.
A place so harsh for so many.
The drive home in the late afternoon is fast.
The Giulietta a red dash on black tar.
We’ve seen some of what the Uitenhage-area offer us.
There is still a science centre.
Beautiful seventeenth & eighteenth century architecture.
The Despatch Chimney.
As we twist on forgotten country roads to our little wooden house, we talk of our story.
Filled to the brim with adversity.
Yet also filled with hope.