The past week has been quite eventful for the world with the passing of actor Paul Walker and most notably the passing of Nelson Mandela. Whereas Paul Walker’s passing was unexpected as he was only 40, Mandela had been ill for months and many knew it was a matter of time given that he was well into his 90s. Mandela’s death of course affected a lot more people and the tributes came from every corner of the world: people of all races, ages and social classes. Just looking at the list of dignitaries present at the memorial service gives a glimpse into the extensive legacy Mandela’s life leaves behind.
I decided this was an appropriate time to share pictures from my visit to his former home at 8115 Vilakazi Street in Soweto during a trip I took to Johannesburg earlier this year with some exchange students. Soweto (the name is an abbreviation of South Western Township) is township that carries so much of South Africa’s apartheid history with majority (if not all) of the main leaders of the struggle against apartheid originating or operating from there. If you are ever doing the tourist thing in Johannesburg, Soweto is worth passing through. In addition to visiting Mandela’s home, we also walked through one of the slums and visited the Hector Peterson Museum which I will cover in another post. We had a guide take us around the yard and inside the little house while she described Mandela’s life and explained some of the pictures and items on display. It was quite an eye opening experience. Unless you’ve read his biography, it’s hard for one to fully grasp Mandela’s life and the impact it had both on his people and his family. Seeing the bullet holes in the walls of the house made everything so real and not just an oft told story.
It’s a very small house so the tour does not take very long but there is a lot to see. There are many items on display that give insight into the personal history of the Mandela family: paintings and photographs of Winnie and Nelson, gifts the family was given, awards Nelson received from various organisations and there were a few flat screens playing documentaries about some of the political activities that took place at the house.
View more pictures below..
After we were done seeing the house, we went across the street to the Mandela family restaurant to enjoy a simple meal of a burger and fries. And on a side note, we came across some street performers that could twist and contort themselves in ways that require one to not have any bone structure…