The Chancellor House in Fox Street, central Johannesburg
The refurbished Chancellor House, where former president Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo had their law office in Johannesburg in the 1950s, was unveiled on Wednesday.
Nelson Mandela - 1950's
Oliver Tambo, 1917 - 1993
“If bricks could talk this building would have been replete with colourful stories about the struggles for national liberation,” said Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo.
Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo.
The building, which was dilapidated prior to the renovation project, was refurbished by the Johannesburg Development Agency at a cost of R5 million.
In 1952, Mandela and Tambo started the first black-owned law firm in Johannesburg, where free or low-cost legal services were offered to black South Africans.
Masondo quoted 'Long Walk to Freedom' to illustrate the significance of the Mandela and Tambo law firm:
“It was a place where they (the black majority) could come and find a sympathetic ear and a competent ally, a place where they would not be either turned away or cheated, a place where they might actually feel proud to be represented by men of their own skin colour.”
Masondo said that the building had housed discussions central to the organisation of the Defiance Campaigns and preparations for the Treason Trials, and as such had shaped South Africa's liberation struggle history.
The law firm closed down in 1960 owing to their political careers and pressure from the apartheid regime and the building gradually fell into disrepair.
The building was saved from demolition when it became a provisional national monument in 1999.
The building would house a museum and archive of the historic work of Mandela and Tambo, Masondo said.