Monday, June 22, 2015

Five Ideas For Seeing Soweto Properly

By Jonny Blair

Soweto is an amazing place and I must recommend it to everyone out there. It is one of the most famous townships in South Africa. Situated in Gauteng near Johannesberg, this place has so much history, you'll end up enhancing your world history knowledge without even noticing it. It's hard to do a top 5 for any place, and Soweto has so much happening that I'm going for a personal top 5 things to do in Soweto.

1. Spend a night with a local family:

A highlight from my travels round Soweto was staying with a local family in Orlando East. I stayed with Rachel and her son and daughter. They made me welcome and it was a small but cosy house. At night they just sit at home and cook and watch TV - almost back to basics existence but a great experience and if you get the chance to do it - go for it!!

2. Visit Nelson Mandela's House:

It is completely essential that you make a trip to Nelson Mandela's former house while staying in Soweto - you'd be an absolute fool to miss it. His former house at 8115 Vilakazi Street is now a fantastic museum. You can walk all around it and read quotes and stories from the man himself. You can get your photo taken in every room in his former house. Best of all is it's a small house - very basic - yet this man was a genius and changed the world. There's an entry charge but it's definitely worth paying!!

3. Drink with the locals in a Shebeen:

No stay in Soweto is complete without visiting a local Shebeen! I'm going to tell you to just ask local people and find your own, as they don't really have names! But make sure you try the Joburg Beer with the locals. It comes in a tub (like an over-sized milk tub) and is pink in colour and you share it round a table. I visited two shebeens in Soweto - one was in a hut, the other was basically someone's house that they welcome you just sitting there having a beer with them. The locals are so friendly and they really welcome people to their culture.

4. Bicycle Tours in Soweto:

Doing a bicycle tour in Soweto is another in my top 5 - why? Because it is the best way to get around and get out to other parts of the massive township! Walking isn't enough - Soweto is massive and it's poky streets and hoardes of people about mean that by driving you won't really enjoy it or see it properly - so hire a bike or become part of the Soweto bicycle tour and you'll get to visit a few different parts of the township, meeting locals and seeing sights you won't get by walking. Do it!

5. The Hector Pieterson Museum:

The Hector Pieterson Museum is highly recommended to get into the history of Soweto and in particular the Soweto Uprising of 1976. A museum and well maintained streets and tributes now sits where Hector Pieterson was once shot dead. It's a real eye opener. Definitely in my top 5 things to do in Soweto!

In truth Soweto is just an amazing place to visit and these are only a very quick top 5 things to see and do.

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