Guide To Visiting Soweto


Soweto is basically known to the outside world for being a poor South African slum that the late Nelson Mandela lived. It is true, but there is far more history than that. Soweto’s name was derived from South West Township and was created by the government a century ago as an area to displace the Black inhabitants from the key urban areas. It is likely one of the largest townships within the country (townships are essentially slums) and for many of its history, it has served as an space of segregation, excessive poverty, and most importantly, as a center for apartheid resistance documented by the Soweto Uprisings.

Nowadays, this place has fully changed. I, like any foreigner, had perceptions of what this “township” would be like; soiled, old, poor, harmful etc. Oh how I used to be wrong. Sure there are still many parts of Soweto that resemble the national geographic images of poverty in Africa. However, with the post Apartheid surge in the South African economic system, there is a large and fast growing Black center class. Soweto has come an extended ways since its combating days.

Driving around, I noticed nice cars in every single place, new buildings, people dressed in good clothing. I didn’t feel threatened at all. Also, throw in the Maponya Mall which rivals that of the nicest malls I’ve seen, and I begin to wonder to myself what’s all of the fuss about when it involves Soweto? This place isn’t all bad! While culturally, it’s seen as desirable to “make it” and go away the township, individuals will still come back right here to show off their possessions and how they’ve made it in life, additionally a sign of how far the country has come economically within the final 20 years.

Nevertheless, compared to Sandton with its immense wealth, Soweto is still incredibly poor and you may clearly see it. There are still shanty towns in every single place like the picture here. I’m not sure if these areas even have electricity. To show how a lot Soweto has come up in recent years, a few blocks down the road from these shanty towns will be proper houses in proper neighborhoods. Nonetheless, Soweto is far closer to foreigner’s perceptions of Africa than a city like Sandton.

To additional showcase that Soweto shouldn’t be the harmful, poor, soiled stereotype that its given, it is actually one of many top vacationer attractions in Johannesburg. There are plenty of corporations that do day tours to Soweto and plenty of tourists sign up. For about 600R, a company will pick you up and go for a half day touring Soweto, visiting all the sites, and even visiting one of many poorer areas. There are even bike excursions available now.

I’ve by no means completed one among these tours because why go on a tour with tourists after I can have my own private tour with some locals who happen to be friends? The primary vacationer attractions listed below are Mandela’s old house (not a historical site), Vilakazi street, the Apartheid Museum (not in Soweto however close by), and some monuments dedicated to the people that lost their lives during the uprising in the Apartheid era. For something not tradition related, there are the Orlando cooling towers which is residence to the Soweto bungy bounce! At 100m, it’s less than half the height of the bungy at Bloukrans so I by no means bothered.

The one good thing about having South Africa friends is I can roll up right into a locals hangout and never really feel completely out of place. While Vilakazi road has loads of bars, this is nowadays, a really touristy part of town and is a spot that foreigners flock to and locals return to Soweto to show off how far they’ve are available life (check out the nice vehicles right here). For a more native experience, where you’ll likely stand out and garnish looks from the locals (not bad looks, just curious looks), head to Panyaza or Chaf-Pozi by the Orlando Towers. The booze is affordable, and there may be always a braai happening the place you should purchase your meat on the spot.

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