11 December 2013 by Lethabo-Thabo Royds and Andrea Weiss

Mandela sites in Gauteng

Nelson Mandela’s memory lives on in a number of places in Gauteng where he spent his formative political years, opening a legal practice and starting to play a leading role in the Struggle against apartheid.

The statue of Nelson Mandela at Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton. Photo courtesy of Julian Schroeder

There are monuments, streets, areas, stadiums and bridges named in his honour. In Gauteng, there are also many historic places where Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela lived and worked.

The year 1952 saw Nelson Mandela open a legal practice with his comrade, Oliver Tambo, the first black legal practice in the country. Here's how Mandela described it in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom:

'"Mandela and Tambo" read the brass plate on our office door in Chancellor House, a small building just across the street from the marble statues of justice standing in front of the Magistrate's Court in central Johannesburg. Our building, owned by Indians, was one of the few places where Africans could rent offices in the city. From the beginning, Mandela and Tambo was besieged with clients. We were not the only African lawyers in South Africa, but we were the only firm of African lawyers.'

Photo courtesy of Johan Wessels, aka wesselspj

The offices are now a museum. Outside there is a large sculpture called Shadow Boxer by local artist Marco Cianfanelli. During these formative Johannesburg years in the 1950s and early 1960s, Mandela enjoyed amateur boxing, working out on weeknights at the Donaldson Orlando Community Centre in Soweto. The sculpture is also symbolic of the role he played in his political Struggle against apartheid.

Photo courtesy of Gus Silber

Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia is where the leading figures in the anti-apartheid struggle secretly gathered right under the nose of the white regime in the early 1960s. On the run from the authorities, Mandela lived here under the assumed name of David Motsamayi in 1961, posing as a gardener. He had already been arrested near Howick in KwaZulu-Natal when the July 1963 raid took place at Liliesleaf, leading to the arrest of 19 members of the underground movement. Mandela was to become the leading figure during the subsequent Rivonia Trial. Liliesleaf Farm is now an open-air museum and is definitely worth a visit.

Photo courtesy of hube.marc

One of the most famous places when walking in Mandela's footsteps is Vilakazi Street in Soweto, the only street in the world to have been home to two Nobel Peace Prize winners, namely Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. The Mandela House at 8115 Vilakazi Street was the family's home from the 1940s until the 1990s, and is the home to which Madiba returned after his 27 years in prison.

Photo courtesy of R Crusoe & Son

His home is now the Mandela House museum, but Archbishop Tutu's home is still used by himself and the family. In Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela says: 'That night I returned with Winnie to No 8115 in Orlando West. It was only then that I knew in my heart I had left prison.'

Outside Chancellor House. Photo courtesy of Amber Dubya, aka Chipmonkey (^o^)

Then, of course, the majestic Union Buildings in Pretoria house the offices of South Africa's president and are the seat of national government. It was here that Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa's first democratically elected president and the place from which he gave his inauguration speech. The Presidency's website has more information about the Union Buildings and Tuynhuys, which is the Cape Town office of the president.

Photo courtesy of Robert Sillett, aka sillett

Mandela's private Houghton residence has become the site of many vigils and amazing tributes to this great leader since his passing. A range of items, from flowers to letters, have been placed here by those wishing to pay their respects.

Photo courtesy of Robert Dennison, aka Rob-i-am

The Nelson Mandela Bridge that connects Newtown and Braamfontein in downtown Johannesburg is one of the city's great urban landmarks, lit up with bright colours at night as a celebration of his life.

The beautifully lit Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg. Photo courtesy of Darren Smith, aka DazMSmith

In Sandton City's Nelson Mandela Square, the larger-than-life statue of this great man is a popular tourist attraction. This giant statue represents the colossus that Mandela became, not only for South Africans but also the world.

The massive statue of Madiba in Sandton. Photo courtesy of Ulrika, aka Ullisan

Mandela has left an indelible mark on this country and the places he lived and worked are now sites of pilgrimage for those who wish to follow in his footsteps. If you have any photographs of Nelson Mandela, monuments or of your time in South Africa, feel free to share them with our Love South Africa Flickr group.

Category: Attractions, Culture & History

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