I signed up for a guided tour today of Soweto and The Apartheid Museum. Soweto stands for South Western Township. It turned out that I was the only person, so I had a private tour. It was a very nice day, pleasant temperatures, breezy and sunny with a few puffy clouds in the sky.
The van left Centurion and the hotel and headed south towards Johannesburg. Since I was the only passenger I sat in the front seat where the driver would sit in an American car. Because they drive on the left side of the road here the driver’s wheel is on the right side of their vehicles. It felt a little odd to be sitting where I felt I should have control of the vehicle.
I know very little of South Africa’s history so I was bound to spend today learning a lot of new information
We drove past Johannesburg where I could see large deposits of white dust left over from gold mining days and on to Soweto where we drove around the township looking at the different points of interest such as a taxi stand that went on for what seemed like miles and an old power plant which has been painted with a historical mural of Soweto. You can apparently also bungee jump from the top of the towers too! No, thank you!
Our first stop was at the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum. This memorial commemorates the shooting of a 13-year old school boy on June 16, 1976 which was a pivotal moment in the apartheid era. Next, we visited the home of Nelson Mandela prior to his imprisonment and where his wife and children lived during his 27 years in prison. The young man who was my tour guide at the Mandela home was moved by that length of time. He said to me “I can’t even imagine, 27 years in prison, that is longer than I have been alive”. Bishop Desmond Tutu lived just down the street from the Mandela’s. Imagine that today I walked the streets where two Nobel Peace laureates lived!
We ate a buffet lunch at an outside patio, nearby was a school and I could hear the students outside at recess. I chose to eat chicken over tripe because I am just not that adventurous but I did try “pap”, which is made from maize and reminded me of grits with the consistency of mashed potatoes.
Our final stop was the Apartheid Museum which was huge and took almost 3 hours to go through. By that time, I had stuffed as much South African history into my brain as it could hold for one day.