The area known as Soweto is to be found south west of Johannesburg. From the 1930s onwards, thousands of black people were relocated here from the inner city under protest to make way for neighbourhoods earmarked as ‘white’ by the apartheid government. Together with waves of migrant workers seeking employment in Johannesburg, they were forced to make this barren flank of land their ‘home’.
In Soweto’s oldest suburb, Orlando, on Vilakazi street, is the Nelson Mandela Family Museum, and nearby, the former residence of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, making it the only street in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize winners once lived.
Close by is Orlando High School, whose students were among the catalysts in the June 16th 1976 Soweto uprisings, and their courage and political conviction are commemorated at the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum nearby.
Along with Hector Pieterson, one of the first children to die in the riots, liberation struggle veterans Joe Slovo, Helen Joseph, Lilian Ngoyi and Zephania Mothopeng are buried at Avalon Cemetery, where another memorial to the victims of the 1976 uprisings has been erected.
A struggle tour of Soweto would not be complete without a visit to the Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Moroka. A spiritual haven for thousands of Sowetans, it played a crucial role in the township's history of resistance against apartheid.
The Freedom Charter, the basis of our ground-breaking constitution, can be viewed at the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication, also known as Freedom Square, in historic Kliptown. For anyone interested in the origins of the new democratic South Africa, Soweto is a must-visit destination.