Monday, April 10, 2017

New Soweto

Soweto was a focal point of the struggle in South Africa against apartheid.  Both Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu lived on Vilakazi Street in Soweto.  Many people come to Soweto today to visit Mandela’s house which has been turned into a museum. 

Hector Pieterson and other children died in Soweto on 16 June 1976 when their protest against apartheid met with gunfire. 

Nelson Mandela gave his first speech in Johannesburg at the FNB soccer stadium in Soweto after he was released from prison in 1990.  

Today much of Soweto has been gentrified.  

Some poor people still live in poorly constructed sheds in Soweto. 

Some of the houses that housed the labourers who worked in the gold mines stand empty. But most of the sheds are gone. 

Vilakazi Street has become a tourist attraction.  

Cooling towers belonging to a de-commissioned power plant have been painted to symbolise a new Soweto.  

Soweto used to symbolise injustice, poverty, anger and violence against apartheid.  Its gentrification reminds us that even an evil as disgusting as apartheid can be overturned, that a place even as hopeless as Soweto can be redeemed.  

On the other hand, one cannot help but wonder where the poor have moved to, and from where are they getting help now.  

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