Nelson Mandela’s house in Houghton, Johannesburg will be refurbished and turned into a five-star hotel for tourists.
This was announced on Wednesday by the CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Sello Hatang.
Former president Thabo Mbeki and struggle stalwart George Bizos were in attendance for the sod-turning ceremony at the residence.
The Mandela Presidential Centre will be a partnership between the Thebe Tourism Group and the award-winning hotel operator Miarestate Hotel and Spa, which is owned by black women.
“Yesterday, on his birthday, we mark the inauguration of the property refurbishment project to make The Mandela Presidential Centre a reality. Nelson Mandela was a traveller in his later life, who made a difference in the lives of those he met and those he travelled with.
“He had an impact on the places he touched and left a part of his beloved land wherever he went. May we continue to be the travellers who make a difference,” Hatang said.
The refurbishment will be led by a team of architects, engineers and heritage consulting experts to ensure that the original design and workmanship stay in place.
“The desired outcome is for the house to be respected; this iconic home will be improved but we will keep the original aura,” said Jerry Mabena, CEO of the Thebe Tourism Group.
Xoliswa Ndoyiya, who was Mandela’s chef for 22 years, said she was taught many values and lessons and witnessed many historic moments in the house. Ndoyiya said she was happy the house would be revived and taken care of and she was hopeful it would still have the essence of a home.
“I want people to share meals and experience a real home,” Ndoyiya said.