Soweto Travel Guide

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Hector Pietersen Memorial in Soweto

Hector Pietersen Memorial in Soweto

www.soweto.co.za

Located some 16 kms from Johannesburg, Soweto is the name for a collective of townships that grew into a city. Originally intended for the temporary housing of mine workers, it became a ghetto for the black population of Jo’burg in 1923. The Urban Areas Act promised (besides the stigma) new houses and better facilities. However, the poor circumstances and the discriminatory laws by the government, resulted in a stream of people, accumulating in illegal squatter camps. It has always been the scene of South Africa’s turbulent history. Soweto is ‘famous’ for its severe violent riots that took place in 1976 when the government wanted to introduce Afrikaans as the official language at schools. The intended peaceful demonstrations were put down violently and over 600 people were killed.

Nowadays, history still shows its face. Most sights in this thriving township are dedicated to the commemoration of either peaceful or violent political struggles. In the western part of Soweto, Orlando, you’ll find the former houses of two Nobel Prize winners, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu who staked their lives, together with many others, for human rights.

After visiting the Nelson Mandela Family museum walk down Vilakazi Street and take the first road to the left, the second house on your left is a charming little place affectionately called "the shack", the locals here will play a game of pool with you and share a beer, it is not commercialised at all, unlike the rest of this area. It is a gem of a spot and Deon "AZI" the owner will always welcome you.

Contributors

November 07, 2005 change by chaoz

May 11, 2006 change by giorgio

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