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Soweto and Apartheid

Soweto

The FNB stadium under construction
The FNB Stadium under construction.
The tour commences with a brief talk outlining the history which led to the beginnings of Soweto. We pass the area where the people lived in Johannesburg before being forced to move to Soweto as a result of Bubonic Plague in 1903. We then enter Soweto.

We stop outside the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital and explain its significance, and history. (It is possible to visit the Hospital, if arrangements are requested to be made beforehand. This would add about one and a half hours to the tour of Soweto.)
We pass the largest taxi Rank in the world, St. John's Eye Hospital and Vista University. We visit the recently erected memorials to McDonald Mashinini, leader of the June 16th 1976 protest against the use of Afrikaans. We also visit the memorials to protest leader Lilian Ngoyi memorial and Bethuel Mokgosinyana, founder of Orlando Pirates Football Club.

Depending upon the interest of clients we visit SKY project in Kliptown. We then visit Walter Sisulu square and explain about the Freedom Charter, the political growth of the ANC and the PAC, Sharpeville and the Treason Trial. We drive past Winnie Mandela’s residence and visit Vilikazi Street, only street in the world which was home to two Nobel Peace Prize winners, Bishop Tutu and Nelson Mandela. We visit the home of Nelson Mandela and we see the site of the shooting of Hector Pietersen and visit the Hector Pietersen museum.

A visit is then made to the Oppenheimer Memorial, Credo Mutwa’s cultural village and the Regina Mundi Church. We exit Soweto passing the FNB Stadium which will be the home of the major games of the 2010 World Cup.

Sophiatown

The tour starts with a background history talk given outlining eventsleading to the 1955 forced removals of 55000 people to Soweto. Sophiatown was razed to the ground by the apartheid government and sub-economic housing was built on the land for White people. The area was renamed "Triomf" (Triumph!). It has now been renamed Sophiatown.

We see the Father Trevor Huddlestone Memorial and his Church, tell the stories of the old days and see Bertha street, and the sites of the old Odine Cinema, Gerty street and Toby street, and the home of Dr Xuma, President of the African National Congress in the 1940’s.

We also see the site of the "Hanging Tree", as well as the site of the first Congress of the People meeting that led to the Freedom Charter meeting in Soweto 5 months later.

The Apartheid Museum

During this tour Robin Binckes outlines his own background, having grown up in the Apartheid era. The full tour of the Museum is conducted by Robin with explanations of the exhibits, the thinking of the people at the time as well as some of the history behind Apartheid.

Visitors share in some of the fears and concerns which contributed to the growth and entrenchment of apartheid, through the eyes and experience of someone who benefited from the apartheid era. Robin, who was in the Navy at the time of Sharpville and who became a Peace Monitor in the townships in the 90’s in the build up to the elections recounts his own experiences and subsequent transformation.

The miracle of April 27th, 1994 is explained in detail and the role of people like Nelson Mandela, F.W de Klerk, Bishop Tutu is discussed. The Truth and Reconciliation Hearings and process are also discussed.

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