We were in the presence of something great

Michael Robey at Mandela House in Soweto.
Michael Robey at Mandela House in Soweto.

The death of Nelson Mandela brought back memories for a Scholes couple, who visited the former South African president’s original house three years ago.

Michael Robey and his partner Jan Oldham were in Johannesburg in 2010 for the England v South Africa cricket match when they found themselves with time on their hands, so went to Soweto to visit Mandela’s former home. “What struck us was how small it was; the kitchen was no bigger than my car, and it had just two bedrooms, yet they brought up all those children there,” he said.

“We were the only people there, and you did feel that you were in the presence of someone great. There are pictures all round the house showing the struggles they went through in the fight against apartheid. It was very humbling.

“It was quite a surreal experience. When we left I couldn’t quite believe what we hadseen, and what we had learned.”

Nelson Mandela moved into the house in 1946 but as the struggle against apartheid gathered, he was forced underground until his arrest and imprisonment in 1964.

After being released from Robben Island in 1990 he returned to the house for just 11 days, before moving, and it was turned into a museum.

It is now a world-wide visitor attraction.