Gauteng Tourist AttractionsMandela House Museum
Where? 8115 Vilakazi Street, Orlando West, Soweto, Johannesburg
How? Call +27 (0)11 936-7754
8115 Vilakazi Street, Orlando West in Soweto is known to many simply as Mandela House. It was where Nelson Mandela lived between 1946 and 1962.
The house is a humble abode of four inter-leading rooms that today contain a collection of memorabilia, paintings and photographs of the Mandela family. Even a pair of Mandela's old boots lie on a shelf for display – insight into the man the country fondly called Tata (father). For today the house functions as a museum.
A red-brick 'matchbox' house built in 1945, bullet holes are still in evidence in the walls, as are scorch marks from petrol bombs thrown at the house whilst Mandela was in prison.
Mandela describes in his The Long Walk to Freedom, how he knew that he had finally left prison when he returned here with his wife Winnie, for it was 'the place marked with an X in my mental geography'.
He chose to return here despite having built a new home a little farther away in the interim, because this home was 'the house of his memories'.
Just up the road from this museum, is another famous house. Desmond Tutu also lives in Vilakazi Street.
Around the corner is the Hector Pieterson Memorial, for it was here that the 1976 students' uprising began. Even closer to the Mandela home is the actual spot where Pieterson fell.
Mandela handed the house to the Soweto Heritage Trust, after divorcing Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. She, however, refused to relinquish it. Instead she turned it into the Mandela Family Museum and started a restaurant and pub across the road.
The house was declared a national heritage site in 1999, and was again placed in the hands of the Soweto Heritage Trust. It has since been refurbished and renovated and includes a visitors' centre and various exhibits.
The museum is closed only on Good Friday and Christmas Day.