Mandela House picture
South African Tourism/Flickr

Key Info

8115 Vilakazi St. and Ngakane St.

Details

Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums, Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
4.6scorecard
  • 3.5Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

Constructed in 1945 in the Orlando West section of Soweto, Johannesburg, the Mandela House became the home for Nelson Mandela (also known as Madiba) and his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase in 1946. Although the pair divorced shortly after, Mandela continued to live in this quaint brick structure. His second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, eventually joined him here in 1948, and together the couple resided at the property with their two daughters. However, due to Mandela's prominence in the anti-apartheid movement, he was forced to leave his family to try to evade government authorities. As a result, Madiba would not return to his home until 1990 when he was released from prison following his arrest in 1962. But after a mere 11 days in the home, Mandela permanently left this Soweto property in favor of a larger, more secure home in Jozi's Houghton neighborhood, where he resided until his death in 2013.

After Madiba left his Soweto home, the property was converted into a museum, which now includes family belongings, honorary degrees and awards given to the former president, original kitchen appliances and furniture, and photographs of Mandela and his family. Although small in size, most visitors appreciate the insight this structure gives into South Africa's most famous politician. Another noteworthy feature: In the home's exterior, bullet holes and fire damage left from petrol bombs used during police raids are still visible.

The Mandela House is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. However, like other local attractions, this museum closes on Good Friday and Christmas Day. There is also an admission fee, which includes entrance into the museum, use of on-site restrooms, a brief tour and access into the visitor center's small gift shop. For adults from African Union countries, tickets are 40 rand ($3) per person, while non-African Union adult tickets cost 60 rand ($4) each. And for children older than 6, a 20 rand ($1) fee applies. Keep in mind that the Mandela House, which is not within walking distance of public transportation, is a popular tourist attraction with limited space, so expect a wait to get in and overpriced street peddlers in the immediate area.

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Apartheid Museum1 of 6
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#1 Apartheid Museum

For a thorough understanding of South Africa's appalling apartheid era, a visit to Johannesburg's Apartheid Museum is a must. The museum features a series of graphic yet informative exhibits, including an array of hanging nooses that represent the execution of 131 government opponents and a series of televisions that show footage of anti-apartheid residents being attacked and killed. The museum also features several interactive exhibits, such as a room where visitors are invited to move a stone from the right to a pile on the left to show their commitment to fighting discrimination and racism. There's also two museum entrances – one for whites and one for nonwhites – to denote the physical separations once apparent during apartheid.

Although several recent travelers warned that you will feel emotional while making your way through this attraction, many agreed that the Apartheid Museum's heartbreaking atmosphere is necessary to help you truly understand what occurred during this period. And remember to take your time here. With so much information to digest, at least a few hours (if not a full day) is recommended.

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André-Pierre du Plessis/Flickr
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