The Eastern Cape Sights


Nelson Mandela Museum

Nelson Mandela Museum Review

The Nelson Mandela Museum stands as evidence of the love and respect that this awesome statesman has inspired in people all over the world, from rural schoolchildren to royalty. The many gifts Mandela has received through his life say more about the givers than the receiver, and the Long Walk to Freedom display shows the political and personal journey of this beloved politician. In addition to the building in Mthatha, there are two other sites. Qunu, where Mandela spent his childhood and where he now has his permanent residence, is on the N2, 32 km (20 mi) south of Mthatha (on a tarred road); you can see his home, a rather ordinary brick house, from the highway. A beautifully designed museum combines natural stone and unfinished wattle branches to create an interesting pattern of light and shade that complements the black-and-white photographs documenting Mandela's early life and his period of activism and incarceration. There's also a reconstruction of his prison cell on Robben Island. Huge glass windows overlook the fields where Madiba (an affectionate sobriquet for Mandela) herded cattle as a boy, and his present house can be seen in the distance. Mvezo was the birthplace of Mandela. Although the foundations of the house in which Mandela was born are visible and there is a small open-air museum, Mvezo is more a place of pilgrimage than a museum (since there isn't very much to see here). It's best to visit Mvezo as part of a tour—both because it's hard to find and because you'll get much more out of it with a knowledgeable guide—which you can arrange through the museum. But you can get directions from the museum in Mthatha if you want to go on your own. You'll need to travel down a 19 km (12 mi) gravel road, but a 4x4 is not required. It's possible to visit the Nelson Mandela Museum on Saturday afternoons and Sundays if you make an arrangement in advance.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Owen St. and Nelson Mandela Dr. (N2), Mthatha, 5100 | Map It
  • Phone: 047/532–5110
  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: Weekdays 9–4, Sat. 9–noon
  • Website:
  • Location: Mthatha

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