Although most of Soweto was built in the 1950s and 60s under the days of high Apartheid, the first people were moved to modern day Soweto in 1905 to what was then known as Klipspruit (modern day Pimville). The name Soweto, given in 1963, is an acronym for South Western Township. Soweto is now home to about 1.5 million people where housing ranges from informal settlements to standard Soweto 4 roomed houses, to up-market wealthy suburban homes.
There is a lot to do and see in Soweto. The Hector Pieterson Museum marks the Soweto uprising of 1976, while Mandela's humble Soweto home in Vilikazi St has been transformed into a museum. Another famous site is Regina Mundi, Soweto's largest Catholic Church which played a central role as a meeting place and a place of safety during the struggle years. Freedom Square at Kliptown, where the Freedon Charter was signed in 1955, has been redesigned (in a rather soulless and I think horrible urban redevelopment) and renamed Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication. There is lots to see in terms of street life - the taxi rank at Baragwanath is a hive of activity - and there are restaurants, shebeens, spaza shops as well as new shopping malls which have developed in the last few years. Tour guides will take you to these places and many of the guides run quite small tours so it possible to have quite tailor made tours.
I prefer to refer guests to people who either live or have lived in Soweto.
- Peter Mashaba of Mashaba tours has lived in Soweto all his life. Either book through me or phone him directly on 0829595686.
- Abey Pheega is very flexible and will often take account of special requests +27 82 979 5589
- Simon Mosikare was part of the class of '76 but tends to be quite booked as he runs a lot of tours now for corporates. www.sowetotours.net/tours.html
- One of the best ways to see Soweto is on a bicycle. Several of my guests have done so and have loved it. See www.sowetobicycletours.com or contact Lebo on email@example.com.
- David Luthaga runs Vhupo tours www.vhupo-tours.com.
You can bungy jump in a 40m free fall from the cooling towers or try the swing between the towers Tel: Towers +27 (0)71 674-4343 or Office +27(0)12 345-5114