Prince Charles tours apartheid history on S.African visit

3rd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla paid tribute to South Africa's struggle against apartheid Thursday, visiting the historic Soweto township and Nelson Mandela's foundation.

In Soweto, they toured a monument to the Freedom Charter, the 1955 document that laid down the tenets of the fight against white-minority rule with the opening declaration: "South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white."

They were greeted in the township by the Soweto Gospel Choir, with 24 singers and a drummer in colourful traditional dress and beads, singing Miriam Makeba's "Click Song" and other African favourites.

Children from local schools and a creche lined the square for the royal pair's arrival, receiving smiles and waves from the couple.

"It was so cool, I liked that. It's so long I want to see the prince," said Boniswa Msibi, an 18-year-old Soweto high school pupil who shook hands with the prince. "We're so happy that they're coming into Soweto to see us and are not afraid of us."

Camilla, dressed in a cream-coloured butterfly-print dress and a cream jacket with black piping, tried on some colourful hats at a handicraft stall.

"Lovely, these hats," the prince said.

The couple inspected the monument, a tribute to the Freedom Charter drafted by the now-ruling African National Congress to counter the policies of the white-minority government.

The charter remains the cornerstone of ANC policies today, and its text is printed on a large stone disc inside the conical monument.

After leaving Soweto, Charles met business leaders in the nearby capital Pretoria to discuss climate change while Camilla visited a women's shelter.

The couple then visited Nelson Mandela's personal archives at his foundation in Johannesburg, where they were greeted by Mandela's wife, Graca Machel.

The foundation had set up an exhibit of materials from its archives, including Mandela's Nobel Peace Prize, his letters and a Christmas card to him from Queen Elizabeth II.

The pair were due to meet Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe at the end of the day.

Before leaving for Tanzania on Sunday, they will also meet Zulu King Zwelithini at his residence in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal.

In Cape Town, the prince will discuss climate change with government and business representatives.

The last time the prince visited South Africa was in 1997.

© 2011 AFP

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