Grahamstown’s a good place to make happy memories

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Thursday, 1st January 2015

Time is somewhere else in Grahamstown. She is a quaint little city where one can truly relax and be embraced by warm Eastern Cape hospitality and have a break from the rush of the 21st century. This in itself renders her well worth a visit, but there are many other features that make Grahamstown a special experience.

The best preserved Victorian city outside the United Kingdom, the architecture in Grahamstown is a delightful testament to her legacy as a heritage city. This is a place steeped in the complex history of a diverse community. Pre-colonial history is the preserve of the indigenous iXhosa people and kept alive by oral tradition. The colonial history is well documented. Originally a British military outpost, the advent of the 1820 Settlers saw Grahamstown’s evolution into a Settler town and the impact thereof. Obviously the iniquitous apartheid era left its tragic imprints and many of the scars are still apparent in contemporary society. This harsh and exacting history is readily available to interested visitors. Makana Tourism is exceptionally helpful for information regarding tours, museums and places of interest which will afford fascinating insights into not only the history of Grahamstown, but that of South Africa as a whole.

The location of Grahamstown is especially convenient with its close proximity to many game farms and reserves where one can experience the thrill of seeing Africa’s wild animals in their natural habitat; easily accessible too, is the beautiful Sunshine Coast with its beautiful and unspoiled blue-flag beaches.

Grahamstown is an educational mecca. It is a well-established centre of learning and the annual calendar is characterised by various functions that reflect this orientation. For example, the National Schools Festival and SciFest draw scholars from all over the country. Rhodes University plays a pivotal role in the city’s life and there are also excellent and well-known schools with proud traditions which attract pupils locally and abroad. In addition to being an excellent teaching university, Rhodes University is also a highly respected centre of research, attracting foreign academics in several disciplines.

Being firmly placed on the educational map has an osmotic effect on the character of Grahamstown in that it gives it an international and cosmopolitan flourish with broader horizons than one would expect from a city of its size.

The National Arts Festival held annually in Grahamstown enjoys international acclaim and is a veritable feast of creative arts. Grahamstown is flooded by thousands of visitors and the atmosphere is vibrant and ebullient. Here one can enjoy the finest theatre, music, dance, art exhibitions, buy beautiful crafts, eat fabulous food and socialise to one’s heart’s content.

These are some of the features which contribute towards making Grahamstown a worthwhile, if not unique, place to visit. It is a small city with a big heart and a good place to make happy memories.

KJ Gutridge

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