We had a wonderful day with a very friendly and informative guide, Pat from Soweto Tour. ( other tour company name is Themba tour ).
I know maybe we could hire a car and just do our own trip, but since we are not sure if it's safe or not, and we had on only very limited time, we decided to join a tour. But end up with only 3 of us were in the van that day.
The guide, Pat was such a fun guy to be with, my son is 14 years old and it could be bit boring for him to just see the town and museum but Pat kept him busy with chatting about Africa, animal to soccer game!!
We visited the rich part of Soweto and very poor part of the town as well. We actually could see one of the house in informative town. Even though we had lived in Tonga, Myanmar and Vanuatu which has got many poverty area, we never actually see inside the house and could speak to some people who are living there.
It was such a great experience for all of us, include my son.
The Hector Pieterson's museum gave us some real sight of Apartheid. Stirred up my heart, just wanted to pray for real peace....
Great trip! I highly recommend anyone who has a little spare time in Jo' burg to visit there!!
This is the house where Nelson Mandela and his ex wife Winnie lived before and after his long imprisonment. Mandela has donated the house to the people as a museum, but his ex does not agree, thus the gate was closed with a chain and a padlock when we were there :-(
In two different internet articles article from 2004, i learned that Nelson Mandela "handed the house to the Soweto Heritage Trust, but Winnie Madikizela-Mandela refused to relinquish it. Instead she turned it into the Mandela Family Museum in 1997 and set up a pub and restaurant across the road." but that "the Soweto house is now back in the hands of the Soweto Heritage Trust". More info and pictures on the linked page.
Opening hours: 9:30 am to 5 pm
Theres more in Soweto than Jo'burg i reckon
Theres Vilakazi street which has Nelson Mandellas house where he lived before going to jail
Theres the Hector Peirterson memorial and trail
All with so much history
There Kliptown with Sisulu square of dedication
And Kliptown itself is worth a walk around to see one of the poorest parts of Soweto
Otherwise walk around and enjoy the sights, the smells and most of all, the colourful friendly people
Nelson Mandelas home where he lived until his imprisonment in 1962 and also for a very short period in 1990 after being released from prison. The house is located on the corssing of Ngakane Street / Vilakazi Street in Orlando West, Soweto. The house is right in the middle of the place where the Soweto Uprising took place in 1976. The Hector Pieterson museum is located a short walk away, the spot where Hector Pieterson was killed is very close to the house.
The small exhibition in the house shows some personal items from the Mandela family. A local guide from the Soweto Heritage trust will show you around in the tiny home and tell you some stories about the house as well as over the former housowner himself. Although it’s a bit overrated, it belongs to a Soweto visit as well as a visit to the Hector Pieterson museum.
Although the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg has a very touching and impressive exhibition, it was this museum in Soweto that had the biggest impact on me. The museum is also apout the dark era called Apartheid which dominated South Africa’s history in the 20th century. But the exhibition heavily focuses on the Soweto Uprising of 1976. Hector Pierson was only one of many victims, but the picture of Pieterson dying in the arms of another schoolkid called Mbuyisa became the symbol for the tragedy of those days. There is one setence I saw there which I still remember: “They are fighting a war which is not theirs.” Indeed, words can’t express what to feel when schoolkids – up to this point politically inactive – turn into the hopebearers of South Africa’s Black population. And at the same time, they fight with stones and fire against a high armed police force.
The weblink below gives you some more general information. Unfortunately, the museum has no own webiste.
Why would you visit an ugly 1960s building when there’s Nelson Mandela’s house and the Hector Pieterson Museum nearby? That’s what you may ask yourself when you stand in front of the Catholic Regina Mundi Church (meaning “Queen of the World”). This church was a gathering place of local Anti-Apartheid activists, but is more known for the role it played during the Soweto uprise of 1976. Hundreds fearing the police attacks fled to this church looking for sanctuary. But their hopes were not fulfilled as the police did not respect the church in the summer of 1976. Bullet holes and a broken marble altar are the tracks left after armed police forces stormed the church in this clash between black students and the Apartheid state.
During opening times, a volunteer of the church will guide tourists through the church showing you the most important places of this building. It includes the picture of the “Black Madonna of Soweto” and photographs showing the younger history of Soweto. Today, the church is sometimes called the peoples church and it is acknowledged by high-rank political figures as an important spot. Still, it plays a central role in Soweto’s community, no matter if catholic or non-catholic.
NOTE: With the popularity of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, there are quite a number of items named after him. Don't confuse this small home in Soweto with the big Nelson Mandela National Museum in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
This small home contains many reminders and interesting photos and documents from the family history of Nelson Mandela. Including such interesting items as a letter from the Sate of Michigan to the CIA asking for them to issue an appology for their role in Nelson Mandela's 1962 arrest.
This is where Mandela and his first wife Evelyn lived during the start of the troubles. (Mandela spent almost 20 years in prison, so it should be no surprise that family life, and thus divorces, were very troubled indeed for a while.) Desmond Tutu's house is just down the street, and is usually pointed out on most tours. In Soweto, and Johannesburg at large, people point out it is the only community on earth that has two Nobel Peace Price winners within several blocks of eachother.
Getting a photo of the outside of the house can be difficult due to the number of tour group mini-buses parked outside - see photo #2.
Prices: 20 Rand Adult, 10 Rand child
The house is very small, and tours can be difficult due to the number of people inside.
As the world's most famous prisoner (held in captivity for 27 years) and, then becoming South Africa's president, Nelson Mandela exemplifies a moral integrity that shines far beyond South Africa.
In the revolution led by Mandela to transform a country based on apartheid laws and dirision, into an open democracy, he alone has achieved a miracle.
This house in Orlando West, is where 'Madiba', Nelson Mandela, used to live in the township Soweto. He lives in a 'formally-white' area now, in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.
The house has 4 rooms, with a variety of memorabilia, photos and paintings of the Mandela family. It also has a variety of honorary doctorates that Mandela has been given by various universities and institutions from all around the world.
This was home to both his wives and daughters, and has seen a lot... including petrol bombs and being caught alight because of his political activities!
They hold tours here for tourists visiting, interested in learning more about this amazing man. I wouldnt advise visiting Soweto on your own, unless with a local, rather go in a tour group.
The tour itself was not that good to be honest, the guides are locals, which is great, but our guide needed to brush up on his general knowledge of the house, and be more people-friendly.
Update: Feedback from others re their tour guides here has been positive, which is good to hear! I have generally had great experiences with SA guides, and this was a disappointment. Maybe it was our guide's first day?
June 16 1976, Soweto students rally against the use of Afrikaans as a language of instruction in scools and inferior bantu education in general. The rally ends in tragedy when children are killed by live bullets fired by police, the event reverberates around the world and is followed shorly thereafter by UN sanctions against South Africa.
13 yr old Hector Peterson was photographed as he was carried away dying. The famous photo has come to symbolise the event considered to be the turning point in the struggle against apartheid.
The museum is a novel and interesting multimedia presentation of the history of the struggle against apartheid.
Museum Curator: Mr. Ali Hlongwane
Cell: +27 82 463 9869
Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Soweto served mutiple puorpses,
other than being a plave of worship,
it was and is a symbol of hope, struggle, prayers
t recalls the many idividual and group actions that
have parrale to the bible
and of the oppressed
like many worldwide
in the past , today and the future
A memorial of the student uprise in 1976, which is considered to be the beginning of the end of apartheid. The monument was not completed at the time we were there, in february 2002.
Take a look at cybernation's Soweto page or the link below for more information.
A visit in one of the settlements is absolutely worth while. We ordered a Soweto tour through Drifters, with whom we were staying, and our guide had a deal with a local guide living in this settlement. This is a way of living while waiting for a steady job for young settlers, and / or a way to earn some money for education. Our local guide Eric was proud to show us the very well organized settlement, and was not very agressive in asking for money. I suppose he was already paid some through the tour operator, but he made it clear he did not mind a small donation to the settlement (or himself). I didn't mind, he was a polite young man and did a good job :-)
A young Cornish lad, John Albert Baragwanath, arrived on the gold fields to make his fortune. The Surname "Baragwanath" was derived from the Welsh word "Bara", which means bread, and "gwanath" means wheat. However, to the transport drivers, and stagecoach passengers, it was "Baragwanath's Place"or just Baragwanath.
By September 1940, with hostilities escalating, and with the need for hospital and convalescent facilities becoming urgent, the Secretary of State in London formally asked the South African Government if it would provide health care facilities for Imperial troops of Middle East Command. The British War Office suggested that 2 hospitals of 1 200 beds be built in South Africa, as well as a convalescent depot of 2 000 beds. After due consideration one of these hospitals was designated for Johannesburg. In November 1941 construction started on the ground bought from the Corner House mining group, at the 8th mile stone on the Potchefstroom road, - near the place where the old Wayside Inn had been situated. The British Government ultimately paid 328 000 pounds for a hospital of 1 544 beds. The situation internationally in 1941 and 1942 looked bleak for the Allies.
There was thus real urgency to construct the hospital as quickly as possible. Within a remarkable 6 months the first patients could be admitted, in May 1942. Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, with its 2 964 beds, is the largest acute hospital in the world. It is situated to the south west of Johannesburg, on the southern border of Soweto. The Hospital grounds cover an area of 173 acres, consisting of 429 buildings with a total floor area of 233 785,19²m.
It is the only public hospital serving ±3,5 million people in Soweto and it provides half of all the hospital services in Southern Gauteng. Being a specialist hospital, referrals for specialist treatment are received from all over the country, as well as surrounding African States.
The Apartheid Museum, the first of its kind, illustrates the rise and fall of apartheid: The racially prejudiced system that blighted much of its progress and the triumph of reason which crowned half a century of struggle.
The Museum has been assembled and organized by a multi-disciplinary team of curators, film-makers, historians and designers. An architectural consortium comprising several leading architectural firms, conceptualized the design of the museum on a seven-hectare site. The museum is a superb example of design, space and landscape offering the international community a unique South African experience.
The exhibits are from film footages, photographs, text panels and artifacts illustrating the events and human stories that are part of the epic saga, known as apartheid.
I think the best, and possibly only way to see Soweto is to book a tour. I did this through the inn I was staying in.