Guide To Visiting Soweto

Guide To Visiting Soweto

Soweto is essentially known to the outside world for being a poor South African slum that the late Nelson Mandela lived. It's true, but there's 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 major urban areas. It is one of the largest townships within the country (townships are essentially slums) and for many of its history, it has served as an area of segregation, excessive poverty, and most importantly, as a middle for apartheid resistance documented by the Soweto Uprisings.

Nowadays, this place has utterly changed. I, like any foreigner, had perceptions of what this "township" can be like; dirty, old, poor, harmful etc. Oh how I was wrong. Yes there are still many parts of Soweto that resemble the national geographic images of poverty in Africa. Nevertheless, with the put up Apartheid surge within the South African financial system, there is a giant and fast rising Black middle class. Soweto has come an extended ways since its preventing days.

Driving around, I saw good automobiles everywhere, new buildings, individuals dressed in good clothing. I didn’t really 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 the fuss about when it comes to Soweto? This place is not all bad! While culturally, it’s seen as desirable to "make it" and go away the township, folks will still come back here to show off their possessions and how they’ve made it in life, also a sign of how far the country has come economically within the last 20 years.

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

To additional showcase that Soweto shouldn't be the damaging, poor, dirty stereotype that its given, it is definitely one of the top vacationer sights in Johannesburg. There are plenty of companies that do day tours to Soweto and loads of vacationers sign up. For about 600R, an organization will pick you up and go for a half day touring Soweto, visiting all the sites, and even visiting one of the poorer areas. There are even bike excursions available now.

I’ve by no means finished considered one of these tours because why go on a tour with vacationers after I can have my own private tour with some locals who happen to be friends? The primary tourist attractions listed below are Mandela’s old house (not a historical site), Vilakazi road, the Apartheid Museum (not in Soweto but shut by), and a few monuments dedicated to the people that lost their lives through the uprising in the Apartheid era. For something not tradition related, there are the Orlando cooling towers which is residence to the Soweto bungy soar! At 100m, it’s less than half the height of the bungy at Bloukrans so I never bothered.

The one good thing about having South Africa friends is I can roll up into a locals hangout and never really feel fully out of place. While Vilakazi street 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 come in life (check out the nice automobiles here). For a more native expertise, the place 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 cheap, and there may be always a braai taking place the place you should purchase your meat on the spot.

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