We're building a homecoming for one of our clients this week: she was born in the Eastern Cape but grew up in Switzerland. We've suggested a trip with Velile Ndlumbini who offers tours of the eastern half of the Eastern Cape (it's a massive region), especially to Steve Biko region.
Biko's name was immortalised after his murder by the apartheid regime in 1977 and by no less than four recordings of the Peter Gabriel song 'Biko' by Paul Simon amongst others. He was also the central character of Cry Freedom, the 1987 Richard Attenborough film. His legacy as the founder of the Black Consciousness Movement is felt all across the world to this day.
The tour looks like this: you're picked up is at your hotel in East London at 09h00. Drive and stop at Hero’s park on the beach front, to see the German Settler Memorial and The Multicultural Memorial. Next stop is the City Hall at The City Centre where the Statue of Steve Biko and Bishop Tutu are situated. From the City Hall we will drive to Duncan Village via North End. At Duncan Village we will stop at Sister Aidan Centre and visit Duncan Village Massacre memorial.
From Duncan Village we will drive via Mdantsane, the second largest Township in South Africa. From Mdantsane our next stop will be The Steve Biko Centre in King Williams Town. From Steve Biko Centre we will go to Dimbaza Wall of Fame. Lunch will be at Man Buy and Braai in King Williams Town. After lunch we will via Bisho Massacre and The Cattle Killing memorial. From Bisho we will drive back to East London. END of the tour.”
As you can see, the tour isn’t just about Steve Biko and his life and times but also other places of huge historical, social and political significance to isiXhosa culture (from which the ruling elite of the ANC comes), not least of which is the Nongqawuse story and the cattle killing (that's a whole story on its own). We would go so far as to say that you cannot really understand the Mandela legacy without understanding Biko and Nongqawuse.
Velile’s tours are not traditional tourism offerings: as such, some of the things you learn and places you visit have deeply traumatic elements attached to them. You will not be left unmoved by this tour but you will be personally enriched by it.
The tour itself take half a day so it's best coupled with a longer stay in the Eastern Cape region, visiting the Mandela legacy area around Mthatha and the utterly splendid unspolit coastline at The Wild Coast. A five night trip, including return flights from Cape Town and accommodation, is ZAR15 000 for two, or US$1, 100.