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Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa: One Day in “The Heartbeat of the Nation”

My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” - Bishop Desmond Tutu

Last summer I found myself returning to one of my favorite cities in the world, Johannesburg, South Africa! Rich in history, culture, and the iconic symbol of struggle against apartheid and for human rights, Johannesburg is the place to be immersed in true South African culture.
Jo’burg or Jozi as some prefer to call it, is South Africa’s biggest city and began as a 19th-century gold-mining settlement and is the vibrant heart of South Africa. After years of decline during apartheid, it is a rapidly changing city which is now looking optimistically towards the future. Upon arriving in Johannesburg, we spent the evening in Rosebank, a vibrant and multi- cultural district. This community is the perfect example of how the city is moving toward the future, a successful balance of residential and business districts.
Welcome to Soweto: Freedom, Memories, Monuments & People
Visiting Soweto is the best way for visitors to immerse themselves in the heart of South Africa’s freedom struggle while allowing you to experience the vibrant township culture of today. The Apartheid Museum, Mandela's Home, and the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum are must-see destinations in Jozi that offer an enlightening glimpse into this turbulent chapter of South African history.
The Orlando Towers, the distinctive landmark of SOWETO
A Glimpse of Soweto's Important History
Bordering what was once the Johannesburg’s mining belt, SOWETO is the abbreviation for South Western Townships, which was created in the 1930s when the White government started separating Blacks from Whites. Soweto became the largest Black city in South Africa, but until 1976 its population could have status only as temporary residents, serving as a workforce for Johannesburg. It experienced civil unrest during the Apartheid regime. In June 1976, The Soweto Student Uprising was a series of demonstrations, sparked by a ruling that Afrikaans be used in African schools there; what began as a peaceful protest turned into riots when activists were violently suppressed, with 176 striking students killed and more than 1,000 injured. Reforms followed, but riots flared up again in 1985 and continued until the first multiracial elections were held in April 1994. Learn more about the uprising and its significance to South Africa and the world here.
SOWETO School children in 2017
Mandela's Home in SOWETO

Soweto Community Immersion with Phaphama Initiatives

Connecting and sharing the spirit of Ubuntu in Soweto!
Jennifer making friends in Soweto!
If you are interested in learning first-hand about South Africa’s remarkable history, culture and people, we invite you to join us on our South Africa Cities & Safari tour. This trip of a life-time provides opportunities to immerse in the natural beauty and diversity that South Africa offers from cities, and townships, to safari! Learn more about the trip and download the itinerary here.
For Seattle-area folks, learn more on February 24 at our event from 10-11:30:

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” - Nelson Mandela

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