Donkin Reserve is one of the most modern day heritage sites in Port Elizabeth and the history can be traced back all the way to 1820.
A Bit of History and a Love Story at Donkin Reserve
Sir Rufane Donkin, an army officer from the Napoleonic era, was stationed in a town with no name in South Africa to welcome the British Settlers in 1820. He became quite fond of the town and decided to call it Port Elizabeth to honour the love of his life, his wife Elizabeth Frances Donkin, who tragically died from a fever months after the birth of the couple’s first son in 1817. The heartache never really left Sir Rufane Donkin and he built a stone pyramid for his wife on a hill overlooking Algoa Bay with the message: “In the memory of one the most perfect of human beings who has given her name to the town below.”
Modern Day History and a South African Story of Freedom
Even though the roots of the Donkin Reserve can be traced back to the arrival of the British Settlers in South Africa, it’s remarkably evident that the Donkin Reserve owes its growth to a part of history that hits home.
Donkin Reserve portrays the dawn of South Africa’s democracy through art, landscaping and colourful mosaic messages as it takes you through the first democratic elections of 1994. Through striking images of heritage sculptures you get the chance to walk next to those who had no say, but a bold voice. Through cast iron figures you realise the changes since 1994, the growth and the hope. Through standing between Madiba and those who were shackled you get a glimpse of our rainbow nation, you scratch the surface and discover a hint of an idea of the walk to freedom.
A Rainbow View of a Rainbow Nation
As you stand on the hill overlooking Algoa Bay, the largest South African flag in the world proudly flaps an array of colours, diversity and tradition, in all its glory, above your head. It is here, under a flapping flag on a heritage hill next to a lighthouse in Port Elizabeth, where you experience your South Africa, my South Africa, our South Africa.
Happy Heritage Day!
*Donkin Reserve also forms part of Port Elizabeth’s Heritage Trail as well as Route 67; an art trail commemorating Nelson Mandela’s 67 years in prison fighting for freedom. The lighthouse is open to the public on request between 08h00 – 16h30 on weekdays and Saturdays 09h30 – 15h30.
For accommodation in Port Elizabeth and other travel deals, have a look at what AccommoDirect is offering; you can find anything from backpackers and guesthouses to king-of-the-castle fancy 5-star lodges.
*Disclaimer: Parts of this blog posts appeared first on Portfolio Collection under the author’s name.