11 August 2015

jo-burg and soweto

after our safari, we just had one day in johannesburg before we flew across south africa to cape town. we decided to go on the top deck of one of those hop-on, hop-off red city sightseeing buses that you see in cities all around the world. it was a great overview of the city. we decided to add on a tour of the township of soweto, a place infused with the history of the struggle against apartheid. we learned a lot about the history and culture of johannesburg and south africa – a place with a doleful past but beautiful, living stories of triumph and forgiveness and rebuilding and renewal.

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^^ our soweto tour guide was an engaging, kind, knowledgeable kid who grew up in soweto. i loved how he was repping his hometown on both his shirt and his hat - he took pride in his community and the struggles that have been and are being overcome there. he was an awesome guide and a fast friend. ^^
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^^ our first stop on the soweto tour was fnb stadium, site of world cup matches and nelson mandela’s first post-prison speech ^^
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^^ in the early 1900s, townships were established to house black labourers outside the inner city, which was reserved for white occupation as severe segregation took root. soweto is an acronym for “southwest township.” apartheid-era planning did not include much infrastructure for townships. ^^
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^^ water towers, street art, and a bungee jumping spot! our tour guide had been twice! ^^
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^^ it was sobering to stand in the park around the hector pieterson memorial (currently under construction) and head the story of that photograph, taken during the soweto student uprising on the 16th of june, 1976. you can read about it here. “the struggle for freedom and deomcracy” was (and still is in some ways) so painfully real in south africa. ^^
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^^ soweto street markets. we met the kindest people here. ^^
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^^ inside nelson mandela’s house. ^^
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^^ outside nelson mandela’s house. ^^
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^^ nelson mandela’s mission, cemented into the wall around his house. ^^
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^^ kids performing traditional dances on street corners … we saw this several times! ^^
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^^ we saw shanty towns like this stretching for miles and miles in between soweto and johannesburg and in other places in south africa. sure promotes some perspective and some gratitude and some humility. ^^
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^^ after the soweto tour, we got on the red double decker bus making rounds of johannesburg proper. we learned a lot about this city which sprung up from discoveries of gold in the ground and has endured a lot of hardship and a lot of changes. ^^
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^^ we got off the bus at constitution hill to see this always-burning flame. ^^
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^^ and the constitutional court! it was neat that we could go right inside. ^^
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^^ that statue is of ghandi! we learned that ghandi lived in south africa for many years and his time there greatly influenced his advocacy for peace. ^^
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great, quick overview of johannesburg, its turbulent past and hopeful future. we went straight from the double decker bus to the airport to head to cape town!

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