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NNelson 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. 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.
TThe 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"
Mandela sites in Gauteng
TThe 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.
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.
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. 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.
'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.
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.
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. 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.