Mandela House

8115 Orlando West Soweto, (Vilakazi Street), Johannesburg

About

The Mandela House at 8115 Orlando West, on the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane Streets, Soweto, was built in 1945, part of a Johannesburg City tender for new houses in Orlando. Nelson Mandela moved here in 1946 with his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase, They divorced in 1957, and from 1958 he was joined in the house by his second wife, Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela (Winnie).

He was to spend little time here in the ensuing years, as his role in struggle activities became all-consuming and he was forced underground (1961), living a life on the run until his arrest and imprisonment in 1962.

Nelson Mandela returned here for a brief 11 days after his release from Robben Island in 1990, before finally moving to his present house in Houghton. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, herself imprisoned several times, lived in the house with her daughters while Nelson Mandela was in jail, until her own exile to Brandfort in 1977, where she remained under house arrest until 1986.

The family continued to occupy the house until 1996, when the Mandelas divorced. The house was subsequently turned into a public heritage site, with Nelson Mandela as the Founder Trustee.

The house itself was identical to hundreds of others built on postage-stamp-size plots on dirt roads. It had the same standard tin roof, the same cement floor, a narrow kitchen, and a bucket toilet at the back.

Although there were street lamps outside we used paraffin lamps as the homes were not yet electrified. The bedroom was so small that a double bed took up almost the entire floor space.

Vision

The Mandela House strives to be a world-class visitor attraction, and a leading centre for the preservation, presentation, and research of the history, heritage and legacy of the Mandela Family.

Mission

The Mission of Mandela House is to provide an effective, efficient and meaningful experience to all visitors, informing them of President Nelson Mandela’s story, both in the context of his home and in the context of his life as a whole.

In a manner that promotes human rights, democracy, reconciliation, mutual respect and tolerance amongst the peoples of South Africa.

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