“Long walk to freedom” inspires Mandela memorial architect

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Architect Greg Straw has designed the final resting place of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela as a garden with a winding path designed to mirror the icon’s “long walk to freedom”.

Straw designed and built Mandela’s memorial at the top of a hill overlooking the village of Qunu where the first black leader of Siuth Africa spent his boyhood and much of his retirement.

A path stretches about 1.2km from the foot of the hill to a vantage point which has remained private and for family members only.

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“Every time you go and pay your respects you walk through the life and times of Madiba,” Johannesburg-based Straw said after the burial.

“You walk along a flat portion of the hill while everything was calm and then when he got incarcerated, it turns the corner and the pathway starts winding up the hill through the times of the struggle and it gets to the top of the hill when he got released.

“So the pathway tells the story, and physically tells the story.”

The 3.2-hectare garden will eventually be turned into a memorial for people to pay their respects, complete with a museum at the foot of the hill.

The idea for the winding path has inspired Mandela’s autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom”, published after he was freed from 27 years in prison under the apartheid regime’s oppressive racial laws.

A film of the same title was released just weeks before the icon’s death.

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