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Acacia Director, Vivian McCarthy heads off to South Africa to experience its spicy food, eerily solemn battlefield sites and the Mandela trail…

Chow Down…

Most people visiting South Africa think of steak but Kwazulu Natal province, home to Durban, has a large Indian population and is well-known for curry. From an offbeat menu at an informal diner called the Boiler Room – a refurbished factory building – I chose the Durban specialty, Bunnychow – a hollowed out loaf filled with lamb curry and chilli-hot sambai (sauce) – washed down with squeezed juice of fresh orange, carrot, pineapple, and ginger, soaked up with desert of lemon iced carrot cupcake.

Definitely worth a visit if you’re an adventurous foodie.

Mandela Moment…

The N3 highway climbs out of Durban away from the coast. It’s one of South Africa’s busiest routes and continues all the way to Johannesburg but our turn off was to visit the site where in August 1962, the 44 year old Nelson Mandela was arrested by the police as a suspect in the Rivonia Trial.

There is a small museum there, the most interesting exhibit scratchy footage of Mandela’s first BBC TV interview – it was only a short clip and the footage was old but he was impressive, even then.

Going Into Battle…

We continued to Spion Kop, a lone hill standing 400m above the surrounding plains. The battle that took place here on 24 January 1900, between the British and the Boers was short and brutal. Within a few hours some 300 soldiers were dead and another 1600 were wounded or captured, mostly British.

The 24 year-old Winston Churchill witnessed the battle but it was the outnumbered Boers who came out ahead on the day. The British trenches could only be dug a few feet deep because of the iron-hard ground and they provided little protection for soldiers who had slogged their way up the steep sided hilltop overnight.

The battle, an embarrassing loss for the world’s greatest power became so well known in Britain that the word ‘Kop’ was adopted for steep sided terraces at numerous football grounds, most famously at Liverpool’s Anfield.