My visit to Mandela’s house in Soweto

I lived in South Africa a few years ago and one of the things I did was visit Nelson Mandela’s house in Soweto with a Zambian and a Tanzanian friend.  I will briefly talk about Soweto township first – I did not expect it to be like that.  The township was quite clean and peaceful.  There were nice shops and the roads were well paved.  I was surprised because the only thing I saw about Soweto on TV showing riots during freedom struggle.  I was impressed with Soweto actually.

We got lost and my Tanzanian friend asked one man for directions in the local language.  The man said “The house is on the next street.  I am glad it’s not another group of Makwerekwere (slur for foreigners) asking for directions.  They are always visiting Mandela’s house.”  We laughed afterwards since we are Makwerekwere.  I wondered if the man thought that the tourism traffic generated by Mandela’s house was wrong.

Visiting Mandela’s house was a humbling experience, especially since there is another house for another Nobel laurete’s, Rev. Tutu’s.  I forgot to take photos of Tutu’s house.

I was surprised that we were the only visitors.  Maybe we just happened to go at a quiet time.  Mandela’s house, although small, is far much bigger than his cell on Robben Island.  I had an opportunity to visit I earlier as well and will write a post about it later.

There were a few quotes on the walls of house and this is one of them:

Second Mandela quote

Mandela quote

Like everybody knows, the Mandela was educated and this is one of the diplomas in the house:

Doctor of Laws!  Hmm, hmm, hmm.

Doctor of Laws! Hmm, hmm, hmm.

Mandela and his wife, Winnie, had their children in this house.  According to their tradition, a baby’s umbilical cord has to be buried under a tree and this tree in their yard had that honor:


On our way from Soweto we passed by The Calabash, a stadium that was constructed for the 2010 World Cup Soccer games.  It is an impressive structure.

The Calabash

The Calabash

We also passed through downtown Johannesburg and this is the African National Congress (ANC) headquarters.  Do you see the Umkhonto we Sizwe, i.e. Spear of the Nation, and the shield?



Here is another quote from Mandela which I thought was a good message for today’s world:

Second quote from Mandela

Second quote from Mandela

Mandela and others like him the world over are more than the word brave itself.  I don’t know if I could have continued standing in the face of savagery.  I salute people like Mandela because they are the epitome of what “stand up for your rights” means.

Have you ever visited a house of a person that did a lot for humanity?  How did that make you feel?

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kate Loveton
    Dec 18, 2014 @ 04:00:31

    It was wonderful to see Mandela’s house. He is an inspirational man.


  2. annettemariebee
    Dec 16, 2014 @ 22:24:08

    thankyou for the journey! such an inspirational man


  3. Minuscule Moments
    Dec 15, 2014 @ 19:41:52

    What an amazing experience he was a unique and compassionate man. After reading his book his life and experiences have stayed with me. Love that second quote, if more people lived by this, what a beautiful world we would live and flourish in. Thank you for sharing your outing. Kath.


    • Zambian Lady
      Dec 16, 2014 @ 08:40:44

      I really liked the quote as well. If only we could go back to our roots and eschew the materialism being so encouraged today, especially by media and celebrities.


  4. livelytwist
    Dec 15, 2014 @ 15:14:59

    My mum does a lot for humanity, but she’s not famous 🙂
    Seriously, I enjoyed reading about your trip- the man who expressed his displeasure at tourists, for example 🙂 I also thought about the power of the media to make us form strong impressions- how your idea of (old) Soweto was shattered by reality on ground.
    The second quote really resonated with me as I’m writing a post along those lines at the moment.


    • Zambian Lady
      Dec 16, 2014 @ 08:37:35

      You are right – there are millions of people who have done a lot but are not known. I met other people like who had served decades in prison when I visited Robben Island, but they too are unknown. It was interesting because they said Mandela was just a symbol of their struggle and were not bothered that he was famous while they were not.


  5. Cindy Bruchman
    Dec 15, 2014 @ 00:51:38

    What a lovely post! Thank you so much for visiting mine. I will enjoy listening to your stories. 🙂


  6. kutukamus
    Dec 14, 2014 @ 21:36:21

    Hi ZL. I guess you’re lucky. I mean, if there are too many people around, I hardly feel anything, even in places like this. Mandela’s a great man.


  7. peakperspective
    Dec 14, 2014 @ 18:10:00

    Wow, what a fantastic field trip. What I wouldn’t give to see and tour Mandela’s home, but I feel so fortunate to be able to read his words and hear his speeches regardless of not having the honor of visiting his homeland. His words are timeless, his work is enduring, and his life was one we are all privileged to have been given a glimpse of.
    Lucky you. I’m so glad you had this opportunity.


  8. Kmandu
    Dec 14, 2014 @ 16:16:48

    Two of three of my favorite people: Mandela, Tutu, Dali Lama and Carter (US president). Thanks for giving us a glimpse of Mandela’s house. I visited Robbin Island many years ago and still Feel the impression it left on me. It was great to see the ‘other side’ of Mandela’s life.


  9. Bill
    Dec 13, 2014 @ 12:02:34

    Thanks for sharing your impressions of Mandela’s home. I enjoy visiting the places where notable people lived. It helps put what we know of their lives into some context, I think.


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