04 Soweto

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Soweto obtained its name from the first two letters of South Western Township which was the original description of the area.

“Soweto is a symbol of the New South Africa, caught between old squatter misery and new prosperity, squalor and an upbeat lifestyle, it’s a vibrant city which still openly bears the scars of the Apartheid past and yet shows what’s possible in the New South Africa” –unknown

Orlando Towers

The Orlando Towers was established in 2007 by Skyriders (Pty) Ltd, with the concept of developing the disused Orlando cooling towers in Soweto into a vertical adventure facility and tourist attraction for Soweto.

Aimed at drawing local Gauteng adventure enthusiasts as well as adventure tourists to the site of the Orlando Towers, it also feeds a large number of people into Soweto, which is now becoming one of South Africa’s most popular tourist attractions.

For more information about the Orlando Towers, you can visit: www.orlandotowers.co.za

Lebo’s backpackers

Head out to the famous suburb Orlando West and get a unique experience. Get to know Soweto by walking the streets and learn the township lingo – Tsotsi Taal, cycling or walking, play soccer with the locals and watch the big games.

Take a walk to museums, restaurants and shebeens. Visit the church and sing to the gospel tunes. Enjoy a delicious braai around the camp fire and dance to the local beats from drums and kwaito music.

Lebo’s Backpackers is proud to be one of the few black-owned backpackers and one of the few backpackers in a black community in South Africa. 2007 Tourism Investment Award winner!

For more Information on Lebo’s Back Packers, you can visit: www.sowetobackpackers.com

The Mandela House

Former South African President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and his family lived here from 1946 into the 1990’s. He donated the house to the Soweto Heritage Trust on the 1s September 1997. On 16 March 1999, the National Monuments Council declared the property a national monument in terms of Government notice 126 as published in the Government Gazette no. 19719, February 1999.

The Mandela House strives to be a world class-visitor attraction, and a leading centre for the preservation, presentation and research of the history, heritage and legacy of the Mandela Family.

For more information on Mandela House, you can visit: www.mandelahouse.com

Hector Pietersen Museum

The Hector Pieterson* Memorial and museum opened in Soweto in 2002, not far from the spot where 12 year-old Hector was shot on the 16 June 1976 during the Soweto uprising that today is a symbol of resistance to the brutality of the apartheid government. Hector Pieterson has become something of an iconic image of the fateful day, mostly due to a photograph published across the globe by Sam Nzima, photographer at the time for The World newspaper in Johannesburg, of the dying Hector carried by a fellow student, Hector’s sister alongside, her hands held out in panic. Today 16 June is National Youth Day to honour young people.

For more Information on Hector Pietersen Museum, you can visit: www.sa-venues.com/attractionsga/hector-pieterson-memorial-site.htm

The Soweto Hotel

The square’s namesake, Walter Sisulu was a wanted man when the Congress of the People met to adopt the Freedom Charter in Kliptown. Sisulu was a major figure in the anti-apartheid struggle, deputy president of the ANC, underground activist and Rivonia treason trialist. Released from prison in 1989, he died in 2003, the same year the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication project was initiated.

The Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication is now the location of the newly opened Holiday Inn Soweto – Freedom Square, a historical moment in South African history as it is the first four-star international hotel to open its doors in Soweto.

The Soweto Hotel & Conference Centre offers 48 rooms, including two suites, 2 executive boardrooms (planned to open later 2009), and The Committee Room (a six seat meeting room) and an elegant jazz restaurant. A prominent musical group of the 1950’s, The Jazz Maniacs, are honoured in the Restaurant. “Rusty’s”, the cocktail bar, is named after Lionel “Rusty” Bernstein who was part of the Committee that drafted the Freedom Charter but who died days before the meeting.

The Executive Boardrooms will be aptly named after two female freedom fighters; Helen Joseph and Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela, who both played an integral part in the anti-apartheid struggle.

With its history, Walter Sisulu Square offers visitors a dramatic walk back in time to a place of historical significance, but the vibrancy of Kliptown as it is today with its busy row of shops in Union Road straddled by various hawkers’ stalls – cages of live chickens, second-hand bundles of clothing and brightly coloured vegetable stalls, lend the square a distinctive township buzz.

For more information on the Soweto Hotel, you can visit: www.sowetohotel.co.za