The township was pretty amazing actually, quite unlike anything I've seen before. It also felt perfectly safe, contrary to popular opinion and the advice of our (ever fallible) guidebook, which had the following to offer on getting to and around Soweto:
Without doubt, the easiest and safest way to visit [Soweto] is on a tour [but] the infrastructure is now such that a self-guided tour is not out of the question - heed local advice carefully if you, if you choose to do this [...] If you want some extra flexibility, and would prefer to avoid the aloofness of an organised tour, perhaps the best option is to take a tour as far as Vilakazi St (the greatest danger is getting hopelessly lost on the way to Soweto) and then rely on your guest house owner to get you safely between the various attractions.Total and complete bollocks. No where does the travel bible tell us how simple a matter it is to get a minibus taxi to and from Soweto or just how helpful and accommodating every single person we've met has been in getting us wherever we have wanted to go.
You certainly want to be vigilant and avoid doing stupid things (like leaving your bag open hanging on the back of a chair, or wandering blithely down random alleyways) wherever possible. But the idea that you can't do anything in Jo'burg without a guide and an armored vehicle is simply preposterous.
Even downtown seemed a little less intimidating this time round. A little familiarity goes a long way to comforting a paranoid mind.
Not that I'd advocate tumbling headlong into downtown Jo'burg after dark, but taking a guided tour of Soweto in broad daylight for fear of having to interact with locals is taking things way too far.
Enough ranting and on to the pictures.
The first is a "typical" Soweto street, the whole place is exceedingly neat and tidy, but also incredibly dry and, therefore, dusty.
The next is of the Hector Pieterson memorial. Hector was the youngest of the students killed during a student march in 1976 to protest the introduction of Afrikanns as the only language of instruction in schools. He was 13 years old. Hector's death is generally considered to mark a turning point in the battle against apartheid.
Next to the memorial is a new museum devoted to the events surrounding Hector's death. The image below graces one of the walls and basically sums it all up.
The B&M Palace Restaurant served us a lunch of the only thing vegetarian on the menu - hot chips.
This shop seemed overly cautious about security, but you never can tell when all those package tourists might run wild...
Tempting as they sounded we elected not to have the cappacino or expresso at House of Coffees.
And the last one is all about speaking truth to power - wherever it lives.