Friday, May 4, 2012


 I flew in to Johannesberg and met up with Celia at the Hotel. Like all hotels in the city we had a security guard and a gate with fences and barbed wire. We ventured out for dinner as Celia had been intrepid in the morning and already discovered the shops. (due to a massive allergic reaction ? to fumigation on the plane?? and needing eye drops.)
We had been advised to go on a tour of the city and Soweto so we did that the next day.

We saw Nelson Mandela's house, the contrast between rich and poor, views of the city , the trees of which are all planted not naturally occurring.
On a tour of the city we went to a Muti shop (traditional African medicine, looking a it like a Chinese medicine practice but more exciting!)
First thing we saw was the sign from Apartheid era.
Bones and Skin
Ground, who knows what?
Herbs and grasses. The shop smelt really good 
Walking sticks

We then went on to Soweto, whose origins go back to 1903, when Kliptown was established after authorities cleared an inner city slum on the pretext of trying to eradicate an outbreak of bubonic plague.It is the most populous black urban residential area in the country, with a population of around a million.

We visited this house, home top six people,who had come from Northern Cape

Now people coming to the city for 'work' find there is none and they set up a 'house' in the Townships. In johannesberg (contrasted to Cape Town) there is not power or running water, despite the township being next to a Power station that was never opened. The two huge cooling towers are now a Bungee Jumping site.
There are also many house now being built by the government, and house people can buy (called appropriately Bank Houses!!) and many accommodation houses, bit like hostels, but it will take a while to re house everyone.
Soweto exploded in violent riots on June 16, 1976, when schoolchildren took the struggle against apartheid into their own hands based on their refusal to have to learn at school in Afrikaans (many had not had this in primary school so then struggled with classes in a 'foreign' language). Hundreds of children around the country died on this day, but South Africa was never to be the same again – the slow road to democracy had begun, culminating in the elections of 1994 and the established of democracy in the country. 
We visited The Hector Pieterson Museum that recognises the young 12-year-old's sacrifice (first child that was shot in the 'peace march') and hundreds of other children who gave their lives for freedom.
A chilling reminder of how privileged we are to be born in our country.


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