The artworks breathe life to the museum. Picture: Clinton Moodley.

The late former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, is definitely one of those people that I call my hero. 

Besides being at the forefront of the struggle against apartheid, imprisoned for 27 years and the first democratic president of South Africa, Mandela also taught me compassion, to be brave and that nothing is impossible. 

Imagine my excitement to find out  the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha was one of the stops during a recent Eastern Cape tour. The non-profit organisation is established by the government as part of a legacy project that seeks to transform the heritage landscape of the country.

Outside the museum.

I enjoy anything related to Mandela and history, and this museum is a mix of both.

The museum is what Robben Island is to Cape Town, a historic place that pays homage to a great world leader. Our group of 7 reach the museum around 10am. The street is lined with traffic, with eager pedestrians filling the pavements.

Some members of our group of 7 pose outside the museum. Picture: Clinton Moodley.

The iconic spot is home to Nelson Mandela memorabilia, interviews and awards that the former South African president received during his political days. Our group is given a brief outline of what to expect at the museum and are given the freedom to walk around the museum as we please. The colourful artworks breathes life into the museum and a range of emotions can be felt as you walk from one exhibit to the next. 

Karen van Rooyen explores the museum. Picture: Clinton Moodley.

As we wander through the exhibits, I feel a sense of pride of how far we have come as a nation, and how leaders like Mandela put themselves in the firing line so that we could have a better life.

Reflecting on Mandela.


The exhibits praise Mandela as a hero, showcase his struggles and the joys of freedom. Clips of Mandela interviews are played in certain parts of the museum. Some of them focus on his ukwaluko (initiation) as a boy to his first television interview before the treason trial in 1956. I love the Mandela courtyard where one can reflect on the great leader and also sneak in a few photographs to mark the experience.

The tour takes around 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending how long you spend at the exhibits.

Important information: 

Entry: Free

Times: Opened Monday-Sunday, from 9am-4pm.

Where: Corner Nelson Mandela Drive & Owen Street, Bhunga Building, Mthatha, 5009

Contact: 047 501 9500 or email: [email protected]

- IOL