Located in an upscale neighbourhood of Johannesburg, the former building has only kept its white facade; diners can enjoy the favourite dishes of South Africa’s first black president, prepared by his former cook.
According to playcrazygame.com, the interior, flooded with natural light that enters through its numerous windows, has been completely renovated Mandela moved there shortly after leaving prison in 1990. He spent eight years in this house, before moving to another property a street away with his last wife, Graça Michel.
“A Chinese neighbor didn’t recognize him and sent him away. When he realized he had closed the door on Mandela, he moved!” he adds, laughing, without discarding that the story could be an urban legend.
Mandela is known the world over for his fight against Apartheid, the country’s formally instituted racial segregation system.
The hotel’s presidential suite was the former president’s bedroom. There are prints of his grandson, his inscription as a detainee on Robben Island, number 466/64, and the word “Madiba”, one of his affectionate nicknames.
The “Mandela Sanctuary” opened its doors last September. In the name is his proposal that guests can be inspired by the calm and positive energy of the late leader.
Released at the age of 71, former public enemy number one wanted to enjoy the most beautiful things he had been deprived of during his 27 years in prison, as he says in his autobiography.
The joy of grandchildren, the beauty of a rose, a sip of the sweet Cape wine.
“He was a simple and straightforward chef”, recalls, with emotion, the cook Xoliswa Ndoyiya.
She was the one who, for about 20 years, prepared their meals and is now responsible for the restaurant. The menu is inspired by your favorite dishes.
If Ndoyiya tried to please his guests with a dish that Mandela didn’t like, he would ask, “Why aren’t you feeding me well?”
And she “felt guilty,” says the cook, smiling as she remembers Mandela eating a plate of chicken. “He liked to eat to the bone,” he reports.
He also knew “to trust people, to treat us as if we were family”, Xoliswa guarantees, before shedding a tear.
The management wants to maintain “a home atmosphere”, far from a museum or a mausoleum. Photos and pictures show Mandela playing games to amuse a baby, or standing with open arms reading a newspaper.
“We have a thousand Madiba stories and references throughout the house, but we tell them to guests only if they ask us questions,” explains Maritz.
The manager wants customers to come to Mandela and then come back through the place. The aim is to reflect two essential qualities of the former South African president: “humility and elegance”.