In Orlando West, Soweto, on the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane streets, you’ll find the modest house that Nelson Mandela and his family called home from 1946 to the 1990s. Mandela lived in the house with his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase, and, after his divorce, with his second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Mandela himself didn’t spend much time at the Vilakazi Street home: his growing role in the anti-apartheid struggle drove him underground before his arrest in 1962. Madikizela-Mandela continued to live in the house with their two daughters, Zenani and Zindzi, until she was banished to the Free State town of Brandfort in 1977.
Upon his release from prison in 1990, Mandela moved back to the house for a short 11 days before moving to larger and more secure premises in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton.
The Mandela family’s four-roomed Soweto home is now a museum and houses various memorabilia, artworks, awards and honorary doctorates conferred on Nelson Mandela and his family, as well as photographs of the family dating back to the 1950s. It's one of the major tourist attractions in South Africa due to its deep history and ties to Madiba's pre-presidential life.
The museum is a short walk from other interesting places to visit in Gauteng, like the excellent Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, a large, modern museum dedicated to the Soweto riots of 1976. It is also located right in the centre of buzzing Vilakazi Street, which is lined with welcoming restaurants, cafes and bars selling typical township cuisine.
Tickets R60 (citizens of African Union countries R40); kids over six R20; kids under six R5.
Open from 9am to 4.45pm. Closed on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter and New Year’s Day.
From the Soweto Highway (M70), turn left onto Klipspruit Valley Road. Pass Phela Street and the sign to the Hector Pieterson Museum. At the next intersection, turn right into Khumalo Street, and take the third left into Vilakazi Street. Mandela House is on the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane streets.