Nelson Mandela’s messages and examples of reconciliation have inspired millions around the world. This, and his humanity and humility, made him one of the modern world’s greatest and most beloved leaders.
Inspired by this legacy and by his longstanding friendship with the former president, Douw Steyn commissioned the building of the Nelson Mandela Centre for Reconciliation on Shambala Private Game Reserve. This special retreat gave him the opportunity to work uninterrupted in peace and solitude, and would provide him the space and tranquillity to strengthen his considerable efforts towards global and local reconciliation. It was intended to be a place where Mr Mandela could hold key discussions with political and business leaders, and continue to promote peace in troubled regions. Here he would have the ideal peaceful surroundings, the tranquillity, the privacy and the freedom to take time for quiet reflection, to think, to write and to hold deep meaningful conversations.
This tranquil place echoes its natural surroundings and speaks of the harmony which Mr Mandela sought in a country for which he was prepared to give his life.
The Nelson Mandela Centre for Reconciliation was built as a place of quiet reflection and was officially opened in November 2001.
Walking around the residence and marvelling at the fluidity of design, I come to appreciate how the African look and feel has been carried through. African culture is rich in detail and the traditional African designs have been incorporated in the plasterwork, the thatched roof and the majestic columns. Extensive use has been made of natural materials, evident in the Leadwood tree trunks that support the porte-cochère and the intricately carved Rhodesian Teak door frame. This Mozambican style of wood carving by master craftsman Matsemela ike Nkoana, was introduced as a tribute to Mrs Graça Machel’s heritage.
The interior décor and furnishings bring to fulfilment the promise of the spectacular exterior. With imported Italian pieces from a specially designed Madiba range and handwoven carpets by local craftsmen, I begin to feel the harmony of different cultures living together.
I can only marvel at this masterpiece of understatement, a fitting tribute to an exceptional, yet humble human being.