The Soul of South Africa
A guided tour is undoubtedly the best way...some will take you bungee jumping...
June 16, 1976 is a date that for the majority of South Africans is a stark reminder of their country’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. Happily, times have now improved in this thriving area and it is now one of the most interesting places to see in Johannesburg and and contributes important part to the city's culture.
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 to 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 on the site. With live entertainment, takeaways and suitable for all the family, you can’t really go far wrong.
The Cradle of Humankind
Just 50km northwest of Johannesburg in the Gauteng province lies one of the best kept secrets around… the Cradle of Humankind and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is here you will find the complex of limestone caves, including the Sterkfontein Caves where Doctor Robert Broom discovered the 2.3 million year-old fossil, australopithecus africanus. With many other ancient, hominid fossils, many believe that this is literally the spot where humankind originated. Any inquisitive or curious traveller in South Africa should not miss this incredible site - a pinnacle of historical importance.
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 nowhere more fascinating, more humbling than Soweto. Just like The Cradle of Humankind, it is a place that reminds us of what it means to be human and how to overcome the struggles of the past…