What to see in Johannesburg: drive from Soweto to the Apartheid museum
What to see in Johannesburg: the city born from the gold rush
The difficult situation of the center
A journey into apartheid
You understand this very well by going to visit the Apartheid museumborn in 2001, where through videos, cards, exhibitions of objects, you can dive into madness of segregation. Visitors come face to face with what apartheid has meant for most of South Africa’s population. And to understand this at the entrance, one is cataloged as white or non-white. To immediately experience what it meant to be second-class citizens.
The path then tells the development of black consciousness, the racism of the Afrikaners and focuses on the turning points in history such as the unrest of Soweto in 1976 and the dramatic release of Nelson Mandela from prison in the late 1980s. The exhibition on the life and political career of Madiba, the affectionate nickname given to Mandela, occupies a particularly touching part of the Museum. And his smile, even today, warms the heart.
Mandela’s house and the Nobel street
Speaking of Mandela then, one cannot neglect the visit to the house where the Nobel prize and civil rights champion, as well as president of the country, he lived with his family since 1946. La Mandela familythe second wife, Winnie and the couple’s two daughters, continued to occupy the house until the 1990s but after Mandela was released fromRobben Island, he no longer lived there. The house was later donated by the president to the Soweto Heritage Truste has since become an attraction that appears in every guidebook dedicated to what to see in Johannesburg as well as the street on which it is located, the Vilakazi Street, the only street in the world to have hosted two Nobel laureates: Mandela, in fact, and the archbishop Desmond Tutu.
What to see in Johannesburg: this is the Soweto myth
L’four-room dwellingincredibly modest, is now one house-museum and is filled with many family photographs dating back to the 1950s, as well as artwork, honorary doctorates awarded, and mementos of this hero of his people.
Among other things, this visit allows you to see what is perhaps the most interesting district of the city: South Western Townships. That is, with an acronym, Sowetoa huge urban area that was the center of the struggle against apartheid. It is no coincidence that his name has been synonymous with riots and blood for years. Today, it is a decidedly peaceful and pleasant area, inhabited by over two million people living in all types of homes, from luxurious mansions to tiny shacks.
The result is that today Soweto attracts many tourists attracted by its rich political history and its pleasant atmosphere born from the merging of different cultures and traditions. If in South Africa by law yes they speak 11 languages it is certain that here you will hear them all. Then, if you can, make a stop at the memorial dedicated to Hector Pieterson. She is one of the victims of Soweto riots of 1976, one of the most painful moments in the history of the country and there were many dead like Hector. But there is a detail: he was only 13 years old.
The other side of the city that is reborn
To continue the journey to discover the city you can go and see the other side of Johanesburg that changes: that is Maboneng Precinct, the neighborhood that, thanks to a radical regeneration, wants to restore normal life to a city famous for being dangerous and hostile. Here they are clubs and art exhibitions, recovered buildings and walls that have become canvases for street artists, elegant young people and people of all colors. There are also trendy hotels and many spaces dedicated to creativity. A bet for a city that was a symbol of closure and that wants to open up. And try to think that the golden age is not necessarily just that of the past.
The cells of Mandela and the Mahtma
A trip to Johannesburg can only end at Constitution Hill, a monument created in the space where there was a military fort and a prison. Another symbol of most turbulent years in the history of South Africa. In Constitution Hill’s 100-year existence, it has seen some of the most important civil rights figures in recent history imprisoned. Two names are enough for everyone: Nelson Mandela and the Mahatma Gandhi.
Today it can still be visited the Old Fort where white males were herded during the apartheid years but also there women’s prison which has seen both white and black inmates. United by the terrible conditions of detention as the drawings of Fatima Meer some of which are still exhibited today in the Constitution Hall. Then there is a part, the one that was most overcrowded, where the black prisoners were. On the doors there are still dramatic graffiti, silent and timeless scars of prisoners without