Nelson Mandela’s home is now a luxury hotel - and not everyone is happy about it

‘A desecration of his memory and blatant capitalism’ says one Twitter user

Lucy Thackray
Thursday 17 February 2022 13:46 GMT
Nelson Mandela's Johannesburg home turned into luxury hotel

Nelson Mandela’s Johannesburg home has reopened as a luxury hotel - with promotional videos receiving a mixed reception online.

Sanctuary Mandela opened during winter in the former home of South Africa’s first black president, in the city’s Houghton neighbourhood, with Reuters sharing a video of the finished property this week.

The hotel’s website centres Mandela’s life as a key attraction of the hotel, saying: “the nine rooms are a reflection on the extraordinary life of Nelson Mandela, with each room dedicated to a part of the great man’s life, from his childhood, through to his time as an activist, prisoner, and ultimately, president and statesman.”

Double rooms will set travellers back £196 a night, B&B, with the Presidential Suite costing from £700-800 per night.

In the luxury restaurant, Mandela’s favourite meal of stewed oxtail has inspired a ravioli dish - his former chef, Xoliswa Ndoyiya, is in charge of the menu.

However, after Reuters Africa posted a slick video of the sumptuous property, some felt the transformation was not in keeping with the spirit of Mandela’s legacy.

“Charging $1,000 a night to sleep in the room where Mandela slept? Who actually gets the money? Making money on the legacy of an icon. I’m somewhat confused!” tweeted communications professional Hasan Patel.

“Transformin the former ANC leaders [sic] home into a place of capitalism and exclusivity is meant to honor Mandela’s legacy..?” added Suku Mnguni.

“How TF is this honoring him? Could have turned it into a museum or something. But a LUXURY hotel? Just say you want to exploit for money,” replied Dani Gray.

President Mandela’s Johannesburg house was purchased in 1998, and was where he spent his final days before his death in 2013.

World leaders including the Clintons and the Obamas stayed at the Houghton property during Mandela’s time there,

In March 2021 South African media reported that the house was deteriorating and that the Mandela family were considering selling it.

In the statesman’s will, it was left to his son Makgatho Mandela and his children, with the stipulation that “The trustees shall... maintain the Houghton property in good order and condition.”

“Sanctuary Mandela is a unique property geared to honour the memory of one of the modern world’s greatest leaders,” Jerry Mabena, CEO of Motsamayi Tourism Group, which manages Sanctuary Mandela, told The Independent.

“Conceived by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which is tasked with preserving Mandela’s legacy and with sharing that legacy across the globe, the Sanctuary is perfectly set up to achieve these goals.

“Most of our visitors are people who have heard about the place and want to have a look around and enjoy a cup of coffee. These people have been welcomed at all times. The venue is open to everyone, and we encourage anyone to visit the venue and see our work to preserve Mandela’s legacy for themselves.”

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