Discovering Soweto's rich heritage
Walking through the streets of Soweto, one cannot help but wonder: "Am I walking in the exact footsteps of the great heroes that once walked a defining path?" Did Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu take an evening stroll on these streets? Did Hector Pieterson and his sister Antoinette play on these roads with their friends until nightfall? So many questions, so many imaginative scenarios to keep residents and visitors marvelling at the untold stories that linger in their minds.
Soweto was established in 1904 and has since grown into a megacity with over a million residents. With upmarket suburbs, quiet neighbourhoods, shopping malls, theatres, world-class sports stadiums, cinemas and entertainment complexes, Soweto has also become a huge tourist attraction as a result of its rich heritage.
Many languages can be heard on Vilakazi Street, including Zulu, Xhosa and Sesotho, along with tongues from across the continent. The street is best known as home to two Nobel Peace Prize winners - the late former president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Archbishop Emeritus Tutu has also owned his house in Vilakazi Street for many years. Although the home is part of Soweto's historical heritage, it is, however, not open to the public since the Tutu family still uses it as a residence.
The Nelson Mandela National Museum (Mandela House) was declared a National Heritage Site in 1999. Nelson Mandela lived here from 1946 to 1962. Built in 1945, the single-story red-brick matchbox house still has bullet holes in the walls while the facade has scorch marks from attacks. The inside of the home features some of the original furnishings and memorabilia including photographs and citations given to Nelson Mandela.
Soweto is also considered as a historical heritage destination for the well-known Hector Pieterson Museum. This large museum is located in Orlando West, a mere two blocks away from where 12-year old Hector Pieterson was shot and killed on the 16th of June in 1976. The museum covers the events of the anti-Apartheid Soweto Uprising, where more than 170 protesting school children were killed when they protested against the sole use of the Afrikaans language in schools. The museum also features films, newspapers, personal accounts and photographs of the events that occurred.
Kliptown is the oldest area in Soweto and is often referred to as the Congress of the People due to the fact that back in 1955 3000 people gathered together to write the Freedom Charter. This later served as the benchmark for South Africa's liberal constitution. The Kliptown Open Air Museum also forms part of the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication, a historical museum in Soweto that includes informal traders, art galleries, shops and a hotel.
Located in the heart of Soweto, the Credo Mutwa Cultural Village is a museum and outdoor exhibition of sculptures and buildings created by African artist and traditional healer Credo Mutwa. The private collection of sculptures was constructed from 1974 to 1986, consisting of African folklore and art with Westernised society. This unique take on art and society offers more for tourists who are hunting for a more authentic traditional experience.
One of the most distinctive landmarks in Soweto, the Orlando Power Station (Orlando Towers) is a decommissioned coal-fired power station in Soweto. The power station was built at the end of the Second World War and has since turned into the 'world's first bungee jump between the two cooling towers.
With property values on the increase in Soweto, completed developments, upgraded roads, transport systems, as well as new commercial infrastructures have made an impact to making Soweto a place where people want to invest and live in. If you are keen on making your mark on this vibrant area, contact RealNet Soweto now.