Chancellor House

Chancellor House display.

Chancellor House display. (Image: Wessels JP/

In the 1950s Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela worked from Chancellor House, which stands opposite the Magistrate's Court in downtown Johannesburg.

The building housed the offices of Mandela & Tambo Attorneys, a thriving legal practice that fought apartheid’s restrictions on black life and defended black clients who had been accused of breaking apartheid's cruel and petty laws.

In the 1990s the building fell into disrepair and was overtaken by squatters. However, in 2010 Chancellor House was brought back under the control of the city council, which extensively restored this national heritage landmark and added a remarkable exhibition displayed in the ground-floor windows of the building that explains in great detail the activities which took place at Mandela & Tambo Attorneys.

Shadow Boxer by Marco Cianfanelli.

Shadow Boxer by Marco Cianfanelli. (Image: saaleha/

The exhibition contains a wealth of archival material, including photos, letters and newspaper clippings, that testifies to the important legal work the pair undertook while working here as lawyers. 

Opposite the building, an impressive sculpture has also been installed. Named Shadow Boxer, Marco Cianfanelli’s statue is based on a photograph of a young Mandela shadow boxing on a nearby rooftop. The plinth of the statue is inscribed with a quote taken from Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom: “In the ring, rank age, colour, and wealth are irrelevant.”


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