“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the world’s most triumphant opponent of apartheid and South Africa’s most celebrated President, died December 5, 2013. He celebrated his 95th birthday on July 18 amid struggles with health and a long hospitalization. This nation – Mandela’s South Africa – is one he tore free from slavery, from racial prejudice and the grip of draconian laws in flagrant violation of human rights and liberties. On his long walk to freedom, Nelson Mandela tramped the dust of several places in South Africa, places that may appear unchanged to the unobservant eye. Yet, freedom has altered these places in ways unimaginable. Here, black people and white now share near-equitable rights, a reality fervently and violently dreamed of but unrealizable during Mandela’s childhood and youth. Mandela, as the world now knows, has been the catalyst of that change. Explore these places. From Mvezo, where he was born, to Qunu, where he attended primary school, and to Robben Island and Paarl where he was imprisoned for nearly two decades, we trace Mandela’s journey through the places that shaped his vision, and whose place on the map he changed, perhaps forever. RECOMMENDED READING: Mandela - An Ordinary Indian Remembers Former South African president Nelson Mandela behind a statue of him that was unveiled at Groot Drakenstein prison in Paarl near Cape Town, in this file picture taken August 21, 2008. Mandela passed away December 5, 2013 at the age of 95. REUTERS/Howard Burditt/Files Lilisleaf Farm, the apartheid-era hideout for Nelson Mandela and freedom fighters in Johannesburg in Rivonia, South Africa. July 11, 2013 marked the 50th anniversary since the hideout was raided by police in 1963. The farm was the secret nerve centre for the ANC underground and the police interrupted a meeting of Operation Mayibuye, a plan to overthrow the Apartheid government. The raid by police led to the arrest of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada and Govan Mbeki and were convicted through the infamous Rivonia Trial and most were sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island. A woman walks past a mural of former South African President Nelson Mandela painted by Soweto artist Siyabonga Mbola in Soweto, South Africa. A mural of former South African president Nelson Mandela is seen at Regina Mundi church in Soweto. Mandela, a global symbol of triumph over adversity, became South Africa's first black leader in 1994 after the defeat of apartheid. Portraits of South Africa's former President Nelson Mandela (top L, top R and bottom R), which are created from broken tiles, are seen in Soweto, South Africa. Mandela, now a souvenir. Ostrich eggs are decorated with South African icons including the flag and a picture of Nelson Mandela at Houts Bay near Cape Town, South Africa. A girl carries her sister over a stream she must cross every day to get to school near the village of Mvezo, the birthplace of Nelson Mandela, in Transkei, South Africa, 2011. During the apartheid era, Transkei was one of several government-designated 'homelands'. It is now located in the Eastern Cape Province, which remains one of the most rural and poorest of the nine provinces. An overview of a monument where Nelson Mandela was born on April 2, 2010, in Mvezo, South Africa. Mandela was born in 1918 in Mvezo, but moved to Qunu, about 32 kilometers from here a young boy. He served as a president of South Africa from 1994-1999, after he retired. Before that he was the leader of the armed wing of ANC and was convicted of sabotage among other crimes and served 27 years in prison, many of them on Robben Island, outside Cape Town. Mvezo has a museum and his grandson Mandla Mandela resides in the village. Traditional dancers entertain guests at chief Mandla Mandela's (grandson of former SA president Nelson Mandela) wedding to French bride Anais Grimaud at the Mvezo Royal Palace on March 20, 2010 in Eastern Cape, South Africa. Former South African President Nelson Mandela's house in Qunu, Transkei. As a small boy, former South African President Nelson Mandela once grazed cattle on these rolling hills in Qunu, South Africa. After spending 27 years in prison for his anti-apartheid work, former South African President Nelson Mandela returned to Qunu, where he had lived from age two to nine, to build his home. An overview of the Mandela family graveyard in the village of Qunu, where Nelson Mandela grew up. Mandela was born in Mvezo, about 32 kilometers from here, and Qunu and its surroundings is the area where he learned about life including his traditional manhood ceremony. Former South African President Nelson Mandela's coral-colored home and compound stands next to the N2 highway and among the rolling hills of his hometown in Qunu, South Africa. Another view of former South African President Nelson Mandela's coral-colored home and compound next to the N2 highway in Qunu, South Africa. Morson Mandela, age 78, stands with a portrait of himself and Nelson Mandela in his house in Qunu, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela grew up. Morson is the little brother of Mandela (in the extended family) and he is the caretaker for the cemetery. Qunu has a museum and Mandela has a big house where he and his family spends time while in the area. Daily life in the village of Qunu, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela grew up. Alex Luithi, 35, wears a mask to ward off the cold while driving his cattle to another grazing place along the N2 highway in Qunu, South Africa. A horseman near Qunu, Transkei, South Africa, 1988. During the apartheid era, Transkei was one of several government-designated 'homelands.' It is now located in the Eastern Cape Province, which remains one of the most rural and poorest of the 9 provinces. It was Nelson Mandela's ancestral homeland and birthplace. Honest Zidlele, 44, looks down at her children, Solam (L), 4, and Nam, 5, while feeding their chickens at home in Qunu, South Africa. A smooth path is still visible along the face of 'The Sliding Rock' near the Nelson Mandela Museum's Youth and Heritage Center in Qunu, South Africa. Mandela lived in Qunu as a young boy and would slide down this large granite rock with friends while taking breaks from herding cattle on the rolling hills nearby. A group of old gum trees stands in the yard of the Mqhekezweni Great Place Heritage site in Mqhekezweni, South Africa. Called 'The Great Place,' the area underneath these large trees was where former South African President Nelson Mandela learned about history and politics from listening to his Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo when Mandela was in the chief's care from ages 10 to 18. A group of old gum trees stands in the yard of the Mqhekezweni Great Place Heritage site in Mqhekezweni, South Africa. This mud brick and thatch-roofed hut, where former South African President Nelson Mandela lived from age 10 to 18, is now part of the Mqhekezweni Great Place Heritage site in Mqhekezweni, South Africa. A painted footprint, made to represent the tracks of former South African President Nelson Mandela, leads visitors around the Mqhekezweni Great Place Heritage site in Mqhekezweni, South Africa. A woman walks past workers unrolling new communications lines as part of the renovation of the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha, South Africa. The site is undergoing major renovation and is planned to reopen in March 2014. A view of Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison where Nelson Mandela was kept, in Takai near Cape Town, South Africa. 1989: Members of the Western Cape Traders Association gather at Wemmershoek Road in Paarl outside the Victor Verster prison calling for the release of Nelson Mandela. Mandela spent the last two years of his 27 year imprisonment here. Robben Island Prison, seven kilometres off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela served 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned as he fought apartheid. Used since the end of the 17th century for the isolation of political prisoners, it is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main gate of Robben Island prison near Cape Town, South Africa, welcomes visitors. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island for many of his 27 years. Former President Nelson Mandela's jail cell on Robben Island. The unveiling of a 30 m statue of Nelson Mandela at the Drakenstein Correctional Facility in Paarl, formerly known as the Victor Verster Prison in Paarl.