When Nelson Mandela passed away on December 5, 2013, millions of people joined South Africans honoring the man who created a nation, and in so doing, changed the world. It was not just Mandela’s long walk to freedom that inspired so many, but his commitment to forgiveness and reconciliation. African safari travelers on Vantage’s Best of Africa: South Africa, Botswana, and Victoria Falls will feel that legacy when they tour the home in Johannesburg’s Soweto neighborhood where Mandela lived before and after his imprisonment. He donated the house to the Soweto Heritage Trust in 1997 to be used as a museum promoting human rights, democracy, reconciliation, and tolerance. It was renovated in 2009.
The Mandela House is located at 8115 Orlando West, on the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane Streets, Soweto,. It had been built in 1945 as part of a Johannesburg residential development project. Nelson Mandela moved here in 1946 with his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase,from whom he divorced in 1957. In 1958 he was joined in the house by his second wife, Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela (Winnie). It was the opposite of grand,” said Mandela, ” but it was my first true home of my own and I was mightily proud. A man is not a man until he has a house of his own.” Mandela spent little time here, having been forced to live underground in 1961 and lived on the run until his arrest in 1962. He described the house in simple terms: “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.” Still, he had fond memories of it, and when he returned here briefly after his imprisonment he said “That night I returned with Winnie to No. 8115 in Orlando West. It was only then that I knew in my heart I had left prison. For me No. 8115 was the centre point of my world, the place marked with an X in my mental geography.”
This was his homecoming after release from Robben Island, the prison where he was jailed for 18 years. Today a museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Robben Island is a symbol of struggle but also of redemption, for many of the guides (including those of Vantage travelers on our African safari) are former inmates or wardens who provide a first-hand perspective on the apartheid years. One such is Christo Brand, the white Afrikaans warden who was Mandela’s jailer. The two became lifelong friends, and Mandela said Brand reinforced my belief in the essential humanity of even those who had kept me behind bars.”
Join us for one of the most comprehensive and affordable deluxe African experiences available today. Exploring the Mandela legacy is just another facet that makes our Best of Africa journey so much more than just another African safari.