Soweto is an acronym for South Western Townships. During the apartheid years, this township was established to house people of black African origin. They worked in the city, but were housed outside its perimeter. Over the years the township grew and is today the largest of its type in the country, but now it is home to any and all of South Africa’s inhabitants.
Soweto was also one of the centres where the struggle against apartheid took place, the 16 June 1976 killing of protesting school children currently memorialised in a national holiday, called Youth Day.
Soweto, and more specifically Vilakazi Street, is a hive of colourful and endemic activity that reflects the manner in which its inhabitants coped with living near the country’s richest city. The economics of the township is still largely run through small people-based stalls called spaza shops. Instead of clubs and pubs, socialising takes place in shebeens, mostly home-based drinking and conversation areas. The tastes, smells and vibrations of Soweto are alive, rich and cosmopolitan. It is in this street that you can visit Nelson Mandela’s old home that is now a museum containing a whole range of memorabilia.