The Nelson Mandela National Museum (Mandela House), is dedicated to the preservation of the history, heritage, and legacy of the Mandela family. Former South African president Nelson Mandela and his family lived in this Johannesburg house from 1946 to the 1990s before dedicating it to the Soweto Heritage Trust.
Since declared a National Heritage Site, the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s house has become a sensitively restored museum, where you can see exhibits and humble household objects that add a personal touch to the story of its occupants’ heroic struggle. Tours that stop at the Mandela House typically cover the highlights of Johannesburg and Soweto, including the Apartheid Museum, Vilakazi Street, and the Hector Pieterson Museum. Site guides at the museum are available at no additional charge.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Museum tours take about 20 minutes.
- Children, students, and pensioners are admitted at half-price.
- Mandela House is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The Mandela House is in Soweto, about a 30-minute drive southwest of Johannesburg city center. Most tours of Johannesburg (whether from the city center or from Pretoria) include round-trip transportation.
When to Get There
The small Mandela House can accommodate up to 20 visitors at a time; if there is a large crowd, be prepared to wait. Free guided tours can be arranged in advance to ensure a particular access time.
History of the Mandela House
The Mandela family occupied the house—with its humble cement floor and tin roof that are typical of the Soweto township—for decades. Mandela returned to 8115 Orlando West in Soweto, Johannesburg, after his release from prison in 1990. When Nelson and Winnie Mandela split in 1996, the then president donated the house to ensure that it would remain as a monument to South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement. He mentioned the home in his memoir, Long Walk to Freedom, as a point on which he fixated for comfort during his imprisonment.