A Hopeful Day in South Africa’s Soweto
While staying with friends in Pretoria, we took the opportunity to take a small group tour to the well-known township of Soweto. Our tour guide, Sunny, picked our group up from Sandton Train Station. He is a local that had lived in the township all his life – so we were in good hands.
Upon entering the township, in the distance we spotted the landmark cooling towers – remnants of a decommissioned power station. These two towers are colourfully painted; one as an advertising billboard and the other more of a mural representing life in Soweto. Today, this area is used for extreme activities such as bungy jumping and abseiling, with a large pub-style restaurant at the base of the towers.
From here, we entered the township and could witness first-hand the poor living standards of this community. Sunny explained that the situation was improving through education and government assistance. This was evident in the improved level of housing as we approached the busiest part of the area.
A focal point of Soweto is Vilakazi Street, which is famous for being the only street in the world to produce, two Noble Peace Prize winners, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Also famous for being the centre of local apartheid riots in 1976. It was a buzzing, lively and colourful street, filled with street performers, restaurants, souvenir shops and market stalls.
Our tour ended with lunch at one of the local restaurants, ‘NexDor’, where we were entertained by a local acappella group.
All the way back to Sandton I reflected on the day which I expected to be quite sombre and depressing, which in part it was, but ended up being a day of hope and change for the better.