Walk the streets where history was made and lives were given in the pursuit of freedom. Soweto is a testament to sacrifice, and the site of the 1976 uprisings that catalysed the world into pressurising the apartheid government to radically reform. In the decades since, it’s become the thriving epicentre of South African culture.
GO: From buzzing Braamfontein, cruise the M1 out of Johannesburg for 20 kilometres. Traffic chokes the roads in and out of the city for hours every day, so be prepared for a long trip.
SEE: Soweto was established during apartheid as a settlement for the black population, separate from suburbs deemed to be whites-only. The name ‘Soweto’ is an acronym for South West Townships.
At Walter Sisulu Square, discover where the Freedom Charter was born. In the 1950s, the ANC led the charge to lay out a document that would outline the future of South Africa as the people of the nation envisioned it. Thousands of letters and suggestions were compiled to create this historic and unified record detailing demands of equality, unity, and justice for all, regardless of race or social standing.
Once a site of historic struggle, today Soweto is a hub of enterprise and culture. Dip into thriving locales like the Soweto Brewing Company or bungee jump from the Soweto Towers at the decommissioned power station in Orlando.
DO: For a unique opportunity, visit a road where two Nobel laureates have lived. On Vilakazi Street, enter the former home of Nelson Mandela, now a museum named Mandela House. Pass by Desmond Tutu’s dwelling, which he still owns and stays in from time to time.
Meet the locals over shisa nyama, the Zulu term meaning to ‘burn meat’. At open-air braais like Chaf Pozi, hear the griddle hiss as meals are prepared for sharing at communal tables.
South Africa’s most famous township is layered with history, creating a rich foundation for the future. The resilience of the human spirit shines brightly here, and the roads are paved with possibility.