Soweto, Gauteng, South Africa

Orlando Towers in the Soweto Township in Gauteng, South Africa.
Soweto, the melting pot of different cultures offers insight into South Africa's history and politics. Museums document happenings during the apartheid regime.

Names like Nelson Mandela and Hector Pieterson are inevitably combined with the Township Soweto South Africa. Nelson Mandela was South Africa's former president and a great freedom fighter, whose old house can be visited here. Hector Pieterson stands for a tragedy that occurred in 1976.

Soweto's name comes from an acronym made up during apartheid from the three words 'South Western Township'. This city originated as a township for black South Africans under the apartheid system.

Soweto is a popular tourist destination and features various sites of interests. These include Kliptown, where the Freedom Charter was drawn up, and the home of former President Nelson Mandela together with the Hector Pieterson Memorial. It features numerous shops, malls, restaurants and one of the largest hospitals on the African continent.

Over the years, numerous townships helped to form Soweto. Orlando, the first township, was created in 1930. More black South Africans were relocated by the 1950's to the township from the inner city. The growth of Soweto is also contributed people seeking employment, from South Africa and other African countries.

The suburb of Soweto played a central role in the political campaigns to remove the apartheid state. Soweto came to the world's attention on June 16, 1976 with the Soweto Uprising. Mass protests erupted over the government's education policy to enforce education in Afrikaans instead of English.

Police opened fire on 10 000 students who were marching from Naledi High School to Orlando Station. By the end of the Uprising, 566 people died. The aftermath saw economic and cultural sanctions introduced from abroad while political activists left the country to train in guerrilla resistance. Soweto today is a melting pot of different African cultures. Residents range from affluent to poor and houses range from big mansions to makeshift shacks. But no matter what their housing condition, Soweto residents take pride in their homes.From the foot bridge at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, you can enjoy a panoramic view over Soweto. SeeWinnie Madikizela-Mandela's mansion situated in an affluent part of Orlando West or spot Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Sisulu residences.

Some of the sights to see in Soweto include the Hector Pieterson Museum and the Mandela Museum. The last one is situated in Ngakane Street and is the home Nelson Mandela shared with his first wife, Evelyn. The tiny home is filled with a range of fascinating clutter and photographs.Amongst the exhibits in the house is a letter from the State of Michigan asking George Bush Senior to apologise for the role the CIA played in Nelson Mandela's 1962 arrest.

North of Vilakazi Street in Pela Street the Hector Pieterson Museum is situated. Hector Pieterson was only 13 years old when he was shot dead in the run-up to the Soweto Uprising. The Hector Pieterson Square features the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum.

The museum provides guests with an insight into what life was like in Soweto during that time and the history of the struggle against apartheid. From the square a line leads to Moema Street, the site where Hector Pieterson was shot outside the school.

Contact a Siyabona Africa Consultant for more information on guided Soweto tours and Johannesburg hotel accommodation options.
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