Whether you are a born-and-bred Jo’burger, or visiting the city for the very first time, a trip to Soweto should definitely be on your list of places to see and experience. Here are six of our favourite places to visit and things to do:
Dedicated to the memory of 13-year-old Hector Pieterson and the Soweto Uprising of 16 June 1976, this world-class museum pays tribute to a traumatic time in South Africa’s history where schoolchildren took to the streets of Soweto to protest against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in their schools. Sam Nzima’s iconic image of a dying Hector Pieterson carried by a fellow learner begs for a moment of reflection and contemplation and the innovative displays, documentaries and visual tributes inside the museum are a fitting honour to this turbulent time in our history.
The most famous street in Soweto, Vilakazi Street is the only one in the world that’s had two Nobel Peace Prize winners as residents – Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Visit Mandela House museum and stop in at Sakhumzi Restaurant for a beer – or a traditional “kasi” meal.
Baragwanath Taxi Rank
This bustling taxi rank and its makeshift stalls selling anything from fruit and veg to airtime and funky sunglasses is a great place to catch the vibe of Soweto. It’s a busy “working” transport hub where daily life simply happens around you. The bridge overlooking the taxi rank is a great vantage point for photographs.
Regina Mundi Church
Regina Mundi Catholic Church is something of a spiritual sanctuary for Sowetans. It was once known as Soweto’s “Parliament” during the struggle against aparthied and played a critical role in the history of the township. Regina Mundi is one of the largest Catholic churches on the African continent.
Adventure-lovers look no further than the Orlando Towers in Soweto. There are various options available from a 100-metre bungee jump, scad freefall, absail or rap jump, and there’s also “The Straitjacket Bungee Challenge”. For those who prefer soft adventure, the viewing deck offers enormous views of the township.
Get on your bike: Soweto Bicycle Tours offer guided tours around the township. There are full or half days on offer and lots of opportunities to meet local residents and visit the main attractions (as well as try out local beer on a shebeen visit). Watch SA Tourism UK’s video to whet your appetite.