A Soweto township tour
Did you know?
Soweto is the only place in the world where 2 Nobel Peace laureates - Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu - lived on the same street.
A Soweto township tour is a must-see for the visitor wanting to understand the South African freedom struggle.
The discovery of diamonds and gold in the late 19th century caused many South African blacks living in independent chiefdoms to head for the gold and diamond rush villages. By 1899 few of them lived this way and as a consequence they lost their freedom, lands and ability to support themselves independently.
A township tour of Soweto explains the history of how many black people gravitated to the cities, especially Johannesburg, where they were housed in single-sex hostels attached to mines and factories. Some lived in multi-racial slums just north of Fordsburg, infamous for their poor living conditions.
But it was not the health risks so much as different groups 'living on friendly terms' that concerned the authorities. An outbreak of bubonic plague in 1904 gave the excuse to burn down the 'location' of Nancefield and remove the 1 358 black residents 13 kilometres from Johannesburg to Klipspruit, which would later become Pimville and eventually Soweto.
By law, no blacks were permitted to live in Johannesburg after the founding of this South Western Township (Soweto), situated in the bowl of the municipal sewage works (cynically chosen because it was the one piece of land that would be of no interest to whites). It expanded rapidly, attracting a range of people.
Over the next 90 years it became the focal point of black urban culture and the struggle for freedom. Now you can experience the vibe and history with a Soweto township tour.
But a short tour is not the best way to appreciate all it has to offer. It is so much better to take a Soweto tour that includes an overnight stay. Then you can visit the struggle sites, after which you can sample the vibrant social scene and thrumming nightlife.