FINAL TOUCH: Cleaners Zanele Mpohlolo and Sinazo Thenjwa make sure the Bhunga Building in Mthatha is spotless before its grand reopening. Picture: Benny Gool / Oryx Media

Johannesburg - The Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha was expected to be reopened on Monday by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, after a four-year closure for renovations.

Monday (July 18) is International Nelson Mandela Day and the Bhunga Building, once used for the Transkei parliament in the Eastern Cape, will welcome visitors to view the collection of gifts received by Mandela during his lifetime. The museum was opened on February 11, 2000, a decade after Mandela’s release.

Mandela insisted it should not be a static collection and tribute to him, but rather a living memorial of his values and vision. It was to inspire and enrich all who visit it, serve as a catalyst for development and share the heritage resources linked to him.

At the relaunch, Mthethwa was due to present the museum’s new vision: “Inspiring positive change in society through the legacy and values of Nelson Mandela”. The department pledged funding for the museum as part of its series of national legacy projects to honour South Africa’s liberation heroes.

The museum curates two sites - the Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Centre in Qunu, and the Bhunga Building.

Museum spokeswoman Noku-zola Tetani said the upgrade cost R54-million and had taken four years to complete.

“We have also created new administrative space, so we have opened more place for displays and actually show off more items in the Bhunga Building. There are too many items to display at once but we will rotate the collection,” said Tetani, adding that they had other permanent and temporary exhibitions around the country.

Among those expected to attend the event were National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, Minister of Public Works Thulas Nxesi, Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi, MPs and Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle, as well as MECs, members of the diplomatic corps, academics and faith leaders.

A colloquium in the afternoon, titled The South Africa of Nelson Mandela’s Dreams: Social Cohesion and Nation Building, was due to include presentations by Mbete, social activist and priest Father Michael Lapsley, and Professors Thozama Qobane and Muxe Nkondo, with Minister Mthethwa responding.

Tetani said Mthethwa had arrived in Mthatha yesterday morning to help the museum staff hand out gifts and plant vegetables at two children’s homes in the town.

The Star