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Südafrika, Pressespiegel

20. März 2009

Newly renovated Mandela home opened as museum

The former family home of the first democratically-elected South African President Nelson Mandela in Orlando West, Soweto has been renovated and opened as a museum on Thursday. The house, number 8115 on the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane Street, still maintains the original dark red brick structure and authenticity of the Orlando West houses. Renovations to the house were conducted by the Soweto Heritage Trust, in partnership with Standard Bank and Anglo American, who each contributed R2.25 million to the project.

It was built in 1945 and Mandela and his late first wife Evelyn took ownership a year later.  They divorced several years later and the statesman married Madikizela-Mandela, who moved into the home.

Now a popular tourist hot-spot, the house was declared a national heritage site in 1999.

The opening ceremony was attended by Mandela's former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, their two daughters, the family's grandchildren, business people, politicians and neighbours.

However, Mandela was not in the crowded tent placed on the pavement of the house where the ceremony was held.

His daughter Zinzi, accompanied by her sister Zenani, delivered a speech on their father's behalf, in which he described his former family home as a "heritage, not only for his family, but for all the people of Soweto".

"Our father who art [in] Houghton, had this to say," Zinzi joked before delivering her father's brief speech.

In the speech, Mandela congratulated all the funders and the project managers who made it possible for the house to be renovated and restored to its original state after being raided and once bombed during the apartheid era.

"We are pleased that the Soweto Heritage Trust has undertaken the restoration, refurbishment and upgrading of our family's old Soweto property.

The heritage of this humble dwelling is of course one of struggle and sacrifice, but it is also one that demonstrates the ability of the human spirit to triumph over adversity," Zinzi said as she read out her father's speech.

"It is the heritage not only of one family, but that of all the people of Soweto and of our nation who refused to bow down to tyranny or succumb to bitterness."

Mandela added that it was fitting that the house become part of a community of institutions dedicated to ensuring that the country's history was preserved and made accessible to future generations.

"There is much we can learn from the past as we chart the future," Mandela said.

Source: Sapa, SA GoodNews

Picture: Werner Beukes / Sapa Visitors are taken on a tour during the opening of the newly renovated Mandela house

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