For tourist information, with multimedia, go to our section on tourism in Soweto
June 16, 1976 is a date that may not mean much to you at a first glance. But for the majority of South Africans, this date is stark reminder of the county’s turbulent past. The Soweto Uprising of 1976 revealed the brutal capabilities of the apartheid regime; 13 year old Hector Pieterson was the first to be killed in the mass protests against the Government’s policies when police opened fire on hundreds of protesters.
When planning your South African holiday perhaps Cape Town, Kruger Park and Port Elizabeth spring to mind. Whilst beautiful, these locations cannot possibly exemplify the abhorrent control of the apartheid regime, the struggles of the people of Soweto can only be understood by visiting the area itself. Now a thriving urban area outside of Johannesburg, Soweto should not be ignored on your trip… Memorials, Museums and Momuments. Exploring some of Soweto’s memorials, museums and monuments is the real way to understand South Africa’s history. The people of Soweto and their struggle against apartheid should be forever remembered and it is only fitting that there are plenty of museums in the area to make sure the fight for freedom is never forgotten…
The aptly named Hector Pietersen Museum in Orlando West is located two blocks away from where his shooting took place on Vilikazi Street. The museum presents fascinating audio-visual displays of the struggles that took place for young people in the apartheid regime. The nearby Nelson Mandela National Museum is by far the most popular tourist attraction in Soweto. Made out of the former house of Mandela, the museum boasts a whole host of his personal artefacts. Local residents give comprehensive tours and have an unprecedented knowledge of all the objects on display. Another must is the Regina Mundi Church. On June 16th, 1976, this was a refuge for many fleeing protesters. However, what is so fascinating about this place is the picture of the Black Madonna and Child of Soweto. Painted by Laurence Scully, the painting was supposed to symbolise hope for the community and was visited by Nelson Mandela in 1997.
There are many different day Tours available for Soweto, at different prices. There are also bicycle tours. You can have tours where you are driven in and out of Joburg by a tour guide in a taxi-bus; and there are also tours run by residents of Soweto – which are usually the best. The people of Soweto are warm, friendly and eager to share their stories with you. There are many package cycling and walking tours that allow you to meet local residents and explore the real soul of Soweto. A guided tour is undoubtedly the best way to get the most out of your visit. Some will take you to Orlando Towers for some bungee jumping from the old Orlando Power Station. Visits to many more popular and cultural sites are also included. There are also several local restaurants for you to try out, namely Chaf Pozi which is one the site. With live entertainment, takeaways and suitable for all the family, you can’t really go far wrong.
Kruger National Park may provide you with stunning wildlife, Cape Town may excite you with it’s cosmopolitan and vibrant buzz, but the truth is there is no where more fascinating, more humbling than Soweto... it is a place that reminds us of what it means to be human and how to overcome the struggles of the past…