Soweto is the acronym for South West Township and in Soweto lies House 8115, Vilakazi Street, Orland; the modest residence of Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. Glories of his struggle needs no narration as his tales of working towards freedom and racial segregation are ones which everyone knows and admires. This House Museum thus attempts to provide justice to the martyr that was Nelson Mandela.
A walk through the now well-lit house will take you by means of pictures along with brief explanations illustrating his struggles at every stage. It also contains some memorabilia that Mandela has himself used at the time, and a wide variety of paintings and pictures.
When Mandela was living a life on a run after imprisonment, this house was petrol-bombed on various occasions and the bullet holes and the scorch marks can be seen even now, and weren’t covered up during renovation. History was made in this house, in this precinct, in this largely black populated area.
“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.
‘It was the opposite of grand, 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.”
– Nelson Mandela, The Long Walk to Freedom
From Johannesburg's northern suburbs: Take the N1 South; pass the Gordon Avenue off ramp; take the Maraisburg Road off ramp and turn left into Maraisburg Road. Travel approximately 2,5km up Maraisburg Road, pass the Newclare Cemetery on your left, turn right into Commando Road and keep on this road until you reach the Soweto Highway (Engen Garage on the right-hand side). Turn right onto the Soweto Highway, then turn left onto Klipspruit Valley Road. Pass Phela Street and a sign to Pieterson Museum. At the next intersection turn right into Kumalo Street, take the third road left into Vilakazi Steet and Mandela House is on the right, on the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane streets.