An exact decade after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison on the 11th of February 1990, the Nelson Mandela Museum (or ‘Mandela House’) was opened to the public. The Museum is actually Mandela’s former home that he resided in from 1946 to 1962, located in Orlando West, Soweto. The exact address is 8115, corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane streets, and is just up the road from the home of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It was declared a National Heritage Site in 1999.
Madiba, as he is affectionately known, insisted that the Museum should not be any kind of honour to him, but rather a living reminder of his values and vision for the future of South Africa. He wished for the building to inspire something within all visitors, acting as a catalyst for further development of the country. The Department of Arts and Culture respected his wishes and donated funding for the Museum as part of its series of national legacy plans that pay tribute to the liberation heroes of South Africa.
The Museum is more than just a building; it is an experience that gives guests the chance to follow the footsteps of the man who changed the course of his country’s history. Mandela’s long walk to freedom started in the foothills that rise from the Mbhashe Riverbanks. His travels led him back to the village of Qunu, where he listened to his elders who told him tales of fights for their land, which educated and moved him.
The Museum has two major sites: the Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Centre in Qunu, and the Bhungu Building in Mathata. Here, you will find exquisite exhibitions that honour Madiba’s life and struggle, including ‘Gift to the Nation’ which displays the gifts he has been given from the people, institutions and governments from across the world, as well as an assortment of illustrations and artefacts that showcase his incredible life.
There is plenty to do at the Museum, including guided tours and a heritage trail that follows Mandela’s footsteps. Pay a visit to the Nelson Mandela Youth & Heritage Centre, make a trip to see the remains of young Madiba’s primary school where he was first given the name ‘Nelson’, check out what is left of the old stone church when he was baptised and spend some time visiting the graveyard where his two sons, daughter and parents are buried. The Nelson Mandela Museum provides all visitors with an unforgettable cultural experience that is both emotionally and spiritually moving.
Image courtesy of South Africa.net