BY Emmanuel Kwarteng, 12:00pm November 13, 2022,

Vilakazi Street: how this famous road in Africa became home to Nobel Peace Prize winners

Vilakazi Street, South Africa. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ jit bag

Could you name another location in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize recipients shared a street? In Soweto, South Africa, on Vilakazi Street, there were homes owned by both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. 

In Soweto’s Orlando West neighborhood, at 8115 Vilakazi Street, you’ll find the Mandela home. The home of Nelson and Winnie Madikizela Mandela, icons of the liberation movement, is now a museum known as the Mandela House Museum. 

Esther Kibuka-Sebitosi, a professor at the Institute for African Renaissance Studies at the University of South Africa (UNISA), says that Mandela’s two daughters, Zenani and Zindzi, grew up there. Due to his need to remain in hiding during the fight that lasted from 1946 until the 1990s, Mandela rarely used the house. His incarceration began in 1962. In time, he made history by becoming South Africa’s first black president and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

Bishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu, an Anglican bishop and theologian, also lived on Vilakazi Street. He became famous for his hilarious and critical remarks calling on the freedom fighters to get their act together. He was instrumental in the fight against apartheid and civil liberties in South Africa. Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa.

He stood out among the leaders of the fight for freedom by standing up to the oppressors in a brave but nonviolent way. He spoke eloquently about the problems that most South Africans face and raised his voice to protest the system. It should come as no surprise that Tutu’s Nobel Peace Prize helped pave the path for severe sanctions against South Africa in the 1980s. 

Who is Vilakazi?

A lot of people visit the West Orlando suburb of Soweto because of the famous Vilakazi Street. The bustling commercial street was named after Dr. Benedict Wallet Vilakazi, a scholar responsible for the first collection of Western-influenced poetry ever published in the Zulu language. He was from a royal Zulu family.

As reported by Britannica, Vilakazi got an MA from Johannesburg’s Witwatersrand University in 1938 and collaborated on a Zulu-English dictionary. By completing a dissertation on Zulu poetry at the University of Witwatersrand in 1946, he made history as the first black South African to get a Ph.D. He continued his academic career and eventually became a senior lecturer at Witwatersrand University. He also taught in Lesotho.

A posthumous award of the Order of Ikhamanga—Gold (OIG) was given to Dr. Benedict Wallet Vilakazi on April 28, 2016, in recognition of his remarkable devotion to the field of literature in indigenous languages and the preservation of Zulu culture.

Many visitors come to see Vilakazi Street and the Nelson Mandela Museum. Good local cuisine, live music, and dancing fill the street. It has stimulated the township economy by producing new, modest enterprises.

On Vilakazi Street, you can also find the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, which is a memorial to the Soweto uprising of June 16, 1976. Hector Pieterson was shot and killed during the rebellion when students protested having to learn Afrikaans in high school.

Last Edited by:seo zimamedia Updated: November 22, 2022


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