SoWeTo – South Western Townships. It´s located at the edge of Johannesburg/South Africa. The violent uprising in 1976 “helped” to bring international attention to the system of institutionalised racial segregation – called apartheid.
We did a guided tour through Soweto organized by MoAfrika. Our guide was amazing and the facts we got to learn about Soweto were stunning – both negative and positive.
When you drive into Soweto you immediately think “this is not how I thought it would look like”. There are normal houses at the beginning. No fences! Which is something special for a city like Joburg (sometimes the city looks like a giant prison and everyone seems to lock themselves up in their houses). But that’s because Soweto is a community and people trust each other – that’s what our guide told us. But of course there’s crime and drug abuse and violation.
We mostly drove through the township but we also walked through the streets of Kliptown and people were so friendly. They were selling stuff on the streets, dancing and singing. We didn’t feel uncomfortable but also not comfortable at the same time. Because if I could, I´d share everything with the people and help them find a way to escape poverty.
But there are ways to help the people living there – The Shalk is an exceptional example. It´s an community project which is empowering children and helping them to go to school and providing at least one warm meal a day.
This blogpost should mainly be visual diary but I´d like to throw in a few facts of Soweto you might not know yet:
- Soweto started as a settlement for gold field workers. Johannesburg is also called Egoli – City of Gold.
- 2011 around 1.2 million people lived in the townships – now 2018 it is said that more than 4 million people call Soweto their home but this is unclear.
- Soweto became an independent municipality in 1983.
- During apartheid employment was not allowed in Soweto.
- Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu were the most popular residents of Soweto. And you can see their former houses when doing a guided tour through the township.