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Mandela House: Wikis


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Coordinates: 26°14′18.73″S 27°54′31.58″E / 26.2385361°S 27.9087722°E / -26.2385361; 27.9087722

Mandela House is the house in Orlando West, Soweto, South Africa, that former South African president Nelson Mandela lived in from 1946 to 1962. It is located at number 8115, at the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane streets, as short distance up the road from the home of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.[1]

Mandela donated the house to the Soweto Heritage Trust (of which he is the founder) on 1 September 1997, to run as a museum.

It was declared a National Heritage Site in 1999.[2]



The house is a single-story red-brick matchbox built in 1945. It has bullet holes in the walls and the facade has scorch marks from attacks with Molotov cocktails. The inside hosts some original furnishings and memorabilia including photographs, citations given to Nelson Mandela and the word championship belt given to Mandela by Sugar Ray Leonard.[3]

As of 2009 the property includes a visitors' centre and a small museum.[4]


In 1999 Soweto was the 16th most popular place for tourists to South Africa to visit and part of that popularity was ascribed to the opening of Mandela House in December 1997.[5]


Mandela returned to the house after his release from prison in 1990, despite suggestions from government officials that he find a safer home. At a rally welcoming him home to Soweto his opening words were, "I have come home at last."[6] However, after 11 days back at the house he moved out again.[7]

He later wrote in his autobiography:

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.[8]



In 2007, the Soweto Heritage Trust determined that the Mandela House was in serious need of attention. Among the concerns were the physical condition of the house and its contents, the lack of any visitor facilities, the lack of training of the guides and the lack of a consistent message. There were also no formally researched exhibition content and displays.

Accordingly, in June 2008 the Trust's deed was amended to focus more exclusively on the Mandela House. A new visitor centre was commissioned, restoration work was authorised, a highly-qualified curator was appointed, and re-training of staff was scheduled. The building was closed to the public in April 2008 [9] and construction work commenced on 18 July 2008.

It was re-opened to the public on 19 March 2009.[10]


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