Mandela's home a fitting memorial

The house in Soweto where Nelson Mandela used to live before he went to prison has become a symbol of black South Africans' struggle for freedom.

The house has now been turned into a museum with memorabilia of the life of the famous anti-apartheid hero.

It was there, in the 1940s, that Mandela dared to dream big.

His home was modest, a size typical of the area's so-called matchbox homes and ironically it was often scorched by Molotov cocktails during violent protests.

But four years ago it was restored and made into the Nelson Mandela National Museum, with the outer walls now displaying the letters he wrote from prison.

Just up the road in 1976 the Soweto uprising claimed the lives of up to 600 people, according to some reports.

Even though Mandela was in prison when it happened, the authorities were still worried about his political influence from behind bars and his home and former wife Winnie Mandela became targets.

"Police shot a lot at this house, sometimes mama said she would find policemen around here not to protect them just to check what was happening. They also had listening devices around here to listen to their conversations," says tour guide Darabile Mowakwane.

"Around here you can see some of the bullet holes from the shooting that took place in the house, terrible days, eh."

Inside the memories are more proud, with Mandela's awards and honours from leaders all over the world on display.

Away from politics his personal side is on display too, his love of boxing and the world championship belt given to him by Sugar Ray Leonard.

Treasured family photos hang on the walls of Mandela's beloved mother, whose funeral he missed because prison authorities refused to let him go.

"When Mandela was released from prison in 1990 this was the home that he returned to," says Ms Mowakwane. "He wrote at the time that 'it was only then that I knew in my heart that I had left prison'. He described this house as the centrepoint of his world and it's now a focal point for people grieving his loss."

Mandela's history will always be deeply rooted at the Vilikazi home. He followed African tradition by burying the umbilical cords of his children on the grounds.

"They come with it and bury under the tree just to introduce the kids to the ancestors to the soil because when we die we go back to the soil because when we die we go back to the soil so we just connecting to the earth to the soil, so he will be connecting with his ancestors," says Ms Mowakwane.

When Mandela wasn't behind bars he spent much of his life on the run and then in the public spotlight.

Now, according to African belief, he has returned home where he can finally rest in peace. 

3 News

source: newshub archive