Nelson Mandela Museum – Inspiring the Nation
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s life experiences can be found at the Nelson Mandela Museum near Umtata in the Eastern Cape. Known lovingly as ‘Madiba’, he is cherished for working towards making a better life for all living in South Africa. Respecting Mandela’s wishes that the Museum not be an accolade dedicated to him, the museum serves as a means to spur on upliftment and development of the community locally.
The Museum comprises of four inter-leading rooms, containing a mixture of memorabilia,
photographs of his family and paintings. Included in this collection are all Nelson
Mandela’s honorary doctorates given to him from universities and institutions worldwide.
To top it off, items presented to Nelson Mandela from Sugar Ray Leonard can be found.
Mandela first took residency at 8115 Ngakane Street with his first wife Eyelyn Ntoko Mase
in 1946. Later Mandela divorced Evelyn and in 1958 married Winnie Madikizela who joined
him in his Soweto home. However, Mandela spent little time there as his life as a freedom
fighter meant he was continuously on the run, until 1962, when he was arrested.
Several times Mandela’s house was petrol bombed but Madikizela-Mandela carried on her life
there with her two daughters, Zeni and Zinzi, while their father was in jail. Later,
Madikizela-Mandela built a more affluent home in Orlando West but when Mandela was released
he was kept on the move from secret location to secret location until he took up residency
in his present home in Houghton.
In 1992, Mandela separated from Madikizela-Mandela and divorced her in 1996. Although
Mandela had left his house in Soweto to the Soweto Heritage Trust, Madikizela-Mandela
refused to give it up and turned it in 1997 into the Mandela Family Museum.
Mandela’s and his third wife, Graca Machel, the former Mozambique president, Samora
Machel’s wife, married on Mandela’s 80th birthday.
The Soweto house is now back with Soweto Heritage Trust and although refurbishing is
needed, as a heritage site, proposed alterations need to be looked at closely before they
can be made. The reason for the need for changes is to make the museum more
tourist-friendly and to allow monitoring of all movement more closely. Often tourists go
no further then taking pictures of the outside of the house. This means without the access
fee, very little can be done to sustain and maintain the house and restore parts of the
The Nelson Mandela Museum is open from 9.30 to 5pm every day.