The bottom of the Soweto Towers The bottom of the Soweto Towers

Soweto, so good

Changing peoples’ perceptions about Soweto is something that drives Phineas Zwane, tour guide for Johannesburg’s Kgokare Tours.
Hosting a pre-Indaba tour that took in community culture and the gritty history at the heart of modern South Africa, he says every city in the world has bad areas.
‘There are four million people in Soweto today. It is very diverse with both rich and poor people. Yes there are areas where you should be careful, just as there are risky areas in every city. For visitors there is so much to see and enjoy in Soweto.’

Included in the day tour was a visit to The Shack, one of Soweto’s legendary shebeens where the regulars are happy to explain and share the tradition of drinking millet beer from a calabash.  
Lunch was at Chaf Pozi, a traditional African braii restaurant with communal tables and township music, just down the road from the calabash-shaped Orlando Stadium, venue for the 2010 Football World Cup.
On a more reflective note, the group visited the house where Nelson and Winnie Mandela lived, now restored as a museum. Down the road is the house of Bishop Tutu. ‘Soweto has the only street in the world where two Nobel Prize winners once lived,’ says Zwane.

There was more reflection at the Hector Pieterson Museum, named after the boy shot by police during a peaceful protest, an event that triggered the Soweto Riots.
New options to explore Soweto today include guided walking tours, cycling (rentals from Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers) and quad bike tours with Soweto Outdoor Adventures. There’s even a bungy jump business, off the colourful Orlando Towers, once power station towers and now the symbols of Soweto.
– Kathy Ombler