A Southern Girl in South Africa

A Southern Girl in South Africa

The Chronicles of a Southern Girl's Adventures of Living, Loving, Learning, and Traveling in Africa

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March Through These Streets Like Soweto

December 11, 2011 , , , , , , ,

“March through these streets like Soweto” is a line from a Lauryn Hill song entitled Forgive Them Father from her eponymous 1998 album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.  I knew Soweto was in Africa but wasn’t sure about its significance in South Africa or the wonderful spirit of the people who lived there.  It was very cool to actually visit the city that Ms. Hill spoke of in her lyrics so many years ago.

I was most inspired by the positivity of the people of Soweto.  It just serves as a shining testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit.  The human spirit is stronger than hate.  It’s stronger than racism.  It’s stronger than any type of violence or injustice.

Soweto Fast Facts

1. Soweto’s (stands for “South Western Township”) roots date back to the late 1800’s.  It was originally formed out of several townships that served as the residential area for many South Africans that were evicted by state and city authorities.  Soweto was meant to exist only as a dormitory town for black Africans who worked in white houses, factories, and industries. From 1923 to 1976, its residents were restricted to a limited number of self-employment categories in Soweto itself – operating general shops, butcheries, eating houses, sell milk or vegetables, or hawk goods. The number of each type of enterprise at any time was strictly controlled.

2. Population is approximately 1 million and mostly black.  Soweto is known as a city that influences culture, fashion and music.  Soweto is experiencing a renaissance in that there are several newer middle class neighborhoods; however, it still has some of the poorest parts of Johannesburg.  Many of its citizens live in matchbox houses (4 room houses) or in shanty towns with very little infrastructure such as indoor plumbing, electricity or running water (see pics below).

3. Soweto came to the world’s attention during the Soweto Uprising which occurred on June 16, 1976.  Students protested in response to the government’s decision to introduce Afrikaans (a mostly Dutch-based language and not a traditional South African language) as the language of instruction in schools.  Police opened fire on the student protesters and 13 year-old Hector Pietersen, was one of the first protesters to be shot and killed that day.  The picture of a South African carrying his lifeless body made news headlines around the world (see below).  Many of the young people that protested went into exile and never returned to South Africa.  The Soweto Uprising sparked similar protests throughout South Africa’s urban and rural regions.

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4. Soweto is the only city in the world that can boast that two Nobel Peace Prize winners lived on the same street – Desmond Tutu (1984) and Nelson Mandela (1993)

5.  Soweto is home to the Orlando Power Station, Baragwanath Hospital (reportedly the world’s largest hospital), FNB Stadium (South Africa’s largest stadium) and the annual Soweto Wine Festival which attracts over 7,000 wine aficionados and 100 of South Africa’s finest wineries.


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This is all so incredible. Thank so much for sharing your story with us…


December 11, 2011

Thanks Toby! I’m just trying to spread the good word about South Africa! Thanks for reading!


December 11, 2011

Brings back memories of a fun and scary day all in one. I was wondering if you went back again to do the bungee jump 🙂


December 17, 2011

That would be a definitive NO. LOL! I would never bunny jump, sky dive, or do anything else that requires me to jump, fall, or wear any type of safety harness/apparatus unless it was in the case of an emergency that required me to do so. LOL!


December 17, 2011

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