Soweto


This morning we were able to have a slower start to the day, but wouldn’t you know, I woke up early. Ah, well. I took my time then found Dana also up early so we walked up to the long house to try to connect to their internet. We were somewhat successful. Soon Brenda, our host was there offering us breakfast. We enjoyed yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, toast and most importantly, coffee.


Amos, our guide from yesterday, returned to take us on today’s journey to Soweto. We had hemmed and hawed about going there, feeling that it would seem like first world voyeurism. However, several of our black guides in Cape Town urged us to go, as they felt it showed their history and culture. So off we drove to Soweto, which we learned is a derivative of “South West township”. On the drive Amos, our living history guide, as I referred to him, relayed fact after fact about the area, the culture, the history…a running monologue broken only as we asked questions. He stopped periodically in various sections of the township, showing us decent looking houses that were built somewhat as a facade for outsiders to see as they drove by. We saw everything from that to completely ramshackle hovels surrounded by trash. 



He took us to a museum that honored the student uprising in 1976 where a 13 year old boy named Hector Pieterson, was killed. We encountered a large group of young school children, plus a few older ones going through the museum obviously taking notes for a school project. Reminded me of the days my own daughter did that sort of thing. Riding down the street from there we passed Winnie Mandela’s house, where Nelson refused to live after being released from prison due to some controversy over the funding of the house. We also passed Desmond Tutu’s house.


We then drove to the Apartheid museum where we began by having a light lunch. The museum was amazingly well done covering the history of the country through British, Dutch and Afrikaans rule and how the policy of segregation was codified into the policy of apartheid. Taking it all in was rather overwhelming, both historically and by all of one’s senses, as there was a lot to read and many videos.


We met back up with Amos to begin the ride back to the estate. On the way we drove through the center of town so the other couple with us who are both architects could see some of the buildings. While there we stopped to see the office where Nelson Mandela and Orville Tambo (whom the Johannesburg airport is named for) practiced law. Traffic was crazy with a good many men trying to sell all sorts of things to anyone stopped at a traffic light or offer entertainment like dancing to amuse and hopefully get a monetary thank you.


Just a short stop at our rooms before we headed out for dinner. Dat and I, along with Brian and Betsy went to a lovely restaurant in a facility with a casino and multiple shops and restaurants. Reminded us of Las Vegas. After a delicious meal it was back to the estate. Time to pack for the next leg of the journey.

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