Soweto is a sprawling township, or more accurately, a cluster of townships on the south-western flank of Johannesburg. Soweto was created in the 1930s, with Orlando the first township established. In the 1950s, more black people were relocated there from ‘black spots’ in the inner city – black neighborhoods which the apartheid government had reserved for whites.
With a population of over 2 million, the Soweto township is the biggest black urban settlement in Africa with a rich political history. Soweto was the centre of political campaigns aimed at the overthrow of the apartheid state. The 1976 student uprising started in Soweto and spread to the rest of the country. Many of the sights on this route therefore have a political significance.
From the footbridge of the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, the largest on the continent, one can get a panoramic view of Soweto.
En-route to Hector Pieterson Museum you pass FNB Stadium ( Soccer City ).
Visit the Hector Pieterson Museum in Orlando West, Soweto, built in memory of the people who died that day, 16 June 1976.
Nelson Mandela’s humble little house in Orlando West, Soweto, now called the Mandela Family Museum, is an interesting stopover for those keen to imbibe a slice of authentic history on the world’s most famous former prisoner.
The museum, a house comprising four inter-leading rooms, contains a rather eclectic assortment of memorabilia, paintings and photographs of the Mandela family as well as a collection of honorary doctorates bestowed on Nelson Mandela from universities and institutions around the world.
You can also have a glimpse of the mansion belonging to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in an affluent part of Orlando West. Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s house and the Sisulu residences are in the same neighborhood. This Soweto tour is highly educational and offers the touring of many popular heritage sites in South Africa.
After lunch at a former shebeen we drive to the Apartheid Museum.
The Apartheid Museum opened in 2001 and is acknowledged as the pre-eminent museum in the world dealing with 20th Century South Africa, at the heart of which is the apartheid story.
Beginning in 1948, the white-elected National Party government implemented the policy of apartheid which turned 20 million people into second class citizens, damning them to a life of servitude, humiliation and abuse. Their liberation in 1994 with the election of Nelson Mandela, the prisoner who became president, is a climax in the saga of a nation’s resistance, courage and fortitude.
The Apartheid Museum, the first of its kind, illustrates the rise and fall of apartheid.
An architectural consortium, comprising several leading architectural firms, conceptualized the design of the building on a seven-hectare stand. The museum is a superb example of design, space and landscape offering the international community a unique South African experience.
The exhibits have been assembled and organized by a multi-disciplinary team of curators, film-makers, historians and designers.
They include provocative film footage, photographs, text panels and artifacts illustrating the events and human stories that are part of the epic saga known as apartheid.
For anyone wanting to understand and experience what apartheid South Africa was really like, a visit to the Apartheid Museum is fundamental.
The museum is a beacon of hope showing the world how South Africa is coming to terms with its oppressive past and working towards a future that all South Africans can call their own.