Mandela Village

Hammanskraal, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa. GPS 25°24’07.5”S 28°17’39.3”E

Nelson Mandela statue

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Residents articulate ongoing challenges, including inadequate access to clean water, youth unemployment, and persistent crime, which underscore the complexities of urban growth within transitional societies.3 The cholera outbreak in 2023 exemplified the critical public health issues of compromised water quality.4 Despite these challenges, the residents of Mandela Village echo a common sentiment: they thrive in their community, enjoying spacious plots adorned with fruit trees despite the water dilemma. Tarred streets illuminated by streetlights and fenced houses create a sense of a harmonious community. Driving through the peaceful streets, the homes and streets of the village appear more developed than the rest of Hammanskraal. The local sports field, also named in Mandela’s honour, stands as a beacon of hope in the village. It is equipped with tennis courts and a cricket oval. Investment in local sports of the area has delivered rising tennis stars, with some securing sports scholarships to universities.5 The South African roller skating championship was even held at Hammanskraal Sports Complex in 2022.6

Mandela Square road sign

The exploration of Mandela Village was approached through the lens of photographic journalism, complemented by casual dialogues with the locals. Recognising potential barriers due to cultural and linguistic differences, the research team’s documentation effort was facilitated by a local interpreter to promote meaningful interactions with the locals. Among them, a local medicine woman showcased a photograph of Nelson Mandela in her dwelling, symbolising her deep respect and gratitude. She expressed how Mandela’s legacy was instrumental in the community’s ability to secure their land from the government, emphasising, “If it weren’t for Mandela and his reputation, we wouldn’t have a place to stay. Because of Mandela, we fought for this location and secured formal permission from the government, all through his name.”7 To combat crime, a local security group patrols the streets at night, which provides added security to early morning walkers commuting to work. The photographic exploration highlighted a close-knit community that regularly interacts with and supports the people of the village.

Mandela’s influence is vividly immortalised in the village’s southern end, where visual tributes cluster. A pivotal roundabout adorned with the statue of Mandela marks the entrance to various facilities named in his honour, including Mandela Hall, the Mandela Sportsground, and the Mandela Cricket Oval. These memorials are not only a homage to his enduring legacy but are strategically situated near the N1 highway and the Dinokeng Game Reserve, serving as beacons that draw visitors and promote tourism.

Reflecting on the significance of Mandela Village, we delve into the implications of naming a place after Nelson Mandela, exploring the potential for preferential perceptions.

For the older residents, Mandela Village embodies hope, representing a hard-won home grounded in Mandela’s enduring influence.

Brown, A. (2013)8

This sentiment, however, may not uniformly resonate with the younger generation, who might not fully grasp the historical and emotional context of their surroundings. The imagery captured from Mandela Village reveals a community that embodies the legacy attributed to its name, showcasing a collective identity forged in the spirit of Mandela’s legacy. This dichotomy between generations highlights the evolving relationship with cultural heritage, emphasising the importance of transmitting historical narratives to sustain the significance of Mandela’s legacy within the village’s identity.

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From the Archive at the Centre of Memory (ACoM)

Item code: ZA COM NMG-31

Title: Nike Air Shoes

Description: One pair of multi-coloured Nike Air Shoes with “Madiba” painted into the design. No date.

Size: 29cm x 11cm

Medium: Leather

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Nike-Air-Shoes-1024x683.jpeg

Other items related to Mandela Village in ACoM

1) ZA COM NMFPC-0289A: Photographs of the Al-Imdaad Foundation that donated blankets to residents in Hammanskraal during 2014.

2) ZA COM MR-T-4-4-0344: Section in Hammanskraal is called Mandela Village.

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We are deeply appreciative of the Mandela Village community for their hospitality, and we give special thanks to Elizabeth for her generosity in opening up her home to us as well as David that spent time with us. Our heartfelt gratitude also goes to Dumizulu Nkwanyane for being an invaluable interpreter during our visits.


1.  Hall, P. (1996). The Cart Before the Horse Housing and Development in Mandela Village. Indicator South Africa, 13(4), p.67–72. Available at:
[Accessed 15 February 2024].

2.  South African Tourism (n.d.). Nelson Mandela stands tall in Hammanskraal.
[Accessed 15 February 2024].

3.  Rafapa, M. (2021). Lack of clean water in Hammanskraal is a violation of rights, says SAHRC.
[Accessed 15 February 2024].

4.  Evans, J. (2023). Hammanskraal cholera outbreak ‘represents the ears of the hippopotamus’ of SA’s wastewater treatment crisis. [Accessed 15 February 2024].

5.  Moretele Times (2023). Hammanskraal tennis club sweeps awards and shines in provincial finals. [Accessed 15 February 2024].

6.  Moleya, B. (2022). Young speed skaters hail sport for keeping them off streets. [Accessed 15 February 2024].

7.  Anonymous (2023). Informal interview with a local medicine woman of Mandela Village, Hammanskraal. Interviewed by Celeste McKenzie (videographer) and Dumizulu Nkwanyane (interpreter), 28 March 2023.

8. Brown, A. (2013). Empowering communities through development: A case study of Mandela Village. Journal of Community Development, 25(2), p.45-62

Photography © 2023 Alet Pretorius