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Nelson Mandela’s former home opens to the public

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Just a few hours’ drive north of Johannesburg, in a vast landscape of pristine African bushveld, is Shambala Private Game Reserve.  And here, amidst the quiet and peace, is a place for contemplation and inner reflection.  A place that personifies the ideas of reconciliation and hope. 

The Nelson Mandela Centre for Reconciliation has been a private home since 2001 and was closed as a mark of respect since the former President’s passing in 2013. The centre reopens in May this year and will be available for public booking for the first time.

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The house was originally built for Mandela by a close friend Douw Steyn. It was opened in 2001 as a retreat, a place where the President could receive guests, parties could meet in the spirit of friendship, against the backdrop of secluded natural beauty that is Shambala.

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The recently opened centre is available to rent in its entirety for small groups and families visiting Shambala.  The house offers guests an indoor heated pool overlooking a private waterhole,  a large outdoor deck and lounge area, a large formal sitting room with a fireplace, a boardroom, a presidential suite with his and hers dressing rooms, private dining area and large living room, and five luxury bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms.

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At the specific request of Nelson Mandela, the house is deliberately simple in its design.  The African look and feel has been subtly carried through, local motifs are subtly used throughout.  As the guest arrives, wooden palisade fencing is reminiscent of a traditional kraal; the thatched roof has the iguana elbow design woven throughout it, a symbol of good fortune. Pillars, fashioned from Leadwood trees, stand at the entrance, supporting the roof, the port-cochère and the intricately carved Rhodesian teak door frame. Chosen for their endurance, they stand unyielding, forever strong. The Mozambican style of wood carving by master craftsman Matsemela ike Nkoana was introduced as a tribute to Mrs Graça Machel’s heritage.

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The interior design is cool and harmonious, filled with neutral tones and fabrics, quietly elegant, but always with the rich roots of tribal design.  The art on the walls is feminine, the key piece is a large canvas of a woman gazing out, her contemplative mood reflecting all she has witnessed.

Shambala Private Game Reserve, Limpopo Province PO Box 423 Vaalwater 0530 South Africa, zulucamp.co.za

About

Assif is a luxury travel and design aficionado currently working as a BBC content producer. He holds an MA in journalism from the University of Leeds. He is partial to tea and cake - Yorkshire Tea Gold Blend please. His favourite trips include island hopping in the Seychelles, a mountain escape in Kashmir and getting lost in Hong Kong.

Assif is the current editor of Adelto Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @journolista.

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May 22, 2015 | Africa South Africa Travel | View comments

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