Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 11 (part 2) - Soweto

 Soweto, which stands for southwestern township, is where the blacks in Johannesburg lived during apartheid. We learned that if something was called a township, that's where the blacks lived, and if it was a suburb, its where the whites lived. We had a guide who lives in Soweto take us around and tell us about the history of the area.  It's really interesting to see how similar apartheid was and its impacts on the black community to our history with respect to segregation.  It was really disturbing. 

We learned about the student protest on June 16, 1976 against apartheid and the forced teaching of Afrikaans in the schools and sparked a nationwide riot. This protest led to the innocent killing of over 200 children over the course of 4 months.   We went to the Hector Pieterson Museum, which commemorates Hector Pieterson, a 12-year old boy who died during the initial protest on June 16th. The museum documents the history behind apartheid and what led to the demonstrations that fateful day. It was quite emotional, reading about it. Made me grateful for what I have, but also angry that people can treat others like that just because of the color of their skin. 

Soweto is now no longer a black only township, but many people have stayed there even though they can now live where we they want. 

Before going to the museum, we walked down Vilakazi Street, which is the only street in the world that has/had two Nobel laureates living on it: Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. They call it the Nobel laureate walk. 

There's probably so much more that I can say about Soweto, but I only have so much time.

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