On a warm winter Sunday 3 South African women from very different walks of life got together and decided on a day trip to Soweto to see what the vibrant township had to offer. With a spring in our step and armed with our cell phones for photos we set off.

In a day these are 5 main areas that one should make a point of getting to, and off course anything that pops up along the way because after all when in Africa nothing is planned


Located on the edge of Soweto, it is the first township seen when entering Soweto. It is a predominately Coloured Township and was established on the farm Diepkloof and Klipspruit purchased by the Johannesburg City Council during the 1930’s. Which would only in 1963 become collectively known as Soweto. Entering the township, your eye is immediately drawn to the brightly painted buildings that dot the horizon. This is a project that began in 2018 with art my Jozi. The Good Luck Shop is the first one to catch your attention , then turning left you head down to the swimming pool and community centre. This is where I met Stanley and Mzi with their team. Explaining to me about their current project of painting professional fly, bantam and featherweight boxer Jake Thuli on the Community Centre wall. Already sketched it would take 3 weeks to complete painting the large canvas. Just around the corner the supermarket and church are covered in vibrant colours, most murals are stories of local people who lived in the area.
Charging up and down the streets are tuk tuks, for just R10 you can get a lift anywhere around town with one of the fleet of 14 vehicles.
Driving up and down the roads there are churches of all denominations, being a Sunday I took the opportunity to pop into the Catholic Church that was about to start its service. The Sister was standing outside welcoming the congregants to Mass. A large statue of Mary stood in the garden watching over the community.
The highlight of my day in this area was stumbling across the initiation ceremony of Sangoma’s who were receiving their certification to practise traditional healing. It was taking place on the pavement and all the signing and dancing in traditional clothing was a spectacular sight that sent goose bumps down my spine.

Artists Mzi and Stanley ( in blue )
Inside the Catholic Church


One of the oldest districts in Soweto, it is an area steeped in history. It is here that the Freedom Charter was signed in 1955. Parking our car near the vendors that sell the best looking fruit and veggies, we walked amongst them admiring the enormous potatoes. At the top of the Open Air Museum on Walter Sisulu Square are the 10 giant pillars which represent the 10 pillars of the Freedom Charter. At the centre of the square is the large brick conical monument , inside you will see the many principles of the charter carved on bronze tablets and looking up at what looks like a giant cross in the ceiling that allows the sun light in.
On the other end of the square is the 4 star Soweto Hotel, definitely worth stopping inside for a coffee and a bite to eat. With its classy interiors and tasteful African decorations it pays tribute to the surrounding area. Stepping out the main entrance , one can spot the blue plaque on the museum, housed in an old hardware store the compact museum brings to life the story of the freedom Charter. The wire sculptures of leading activists and ordinary people are the main feature, walking amongst them and reading their stories lets a person see life in the 50’s through their eyes. I was struck by the amount of the knowledge the guard had, he was eager to share it and was a wealth of information.
Heading back to the car past some vendors we stopped at Sylvia Gogo – Vele’s Muthi shop. She took the time to explain why women became addicted to the clay rocks that they buy in bucket fills for R25 . Usually having an iron deficiency leads them to chew on the rocks. Another favourite is the Impepho plant, a sacred herb that is burned like incense and is used to bring about the presence of the spirits.

Sylvia the Sangoma
Soweto Hotel


An absolute “ must see “ is the vibrant Soweto Theatre.The eye – catching, curved, box- like structure opened in 2012. The brightly coloured exterior is only a taste of what the interior looks like. Covered in bright ceramic tiles and eye catching art work you can just imagine the energy that must flow from performances on the three different stages inside.
The three different coloured boxes are in actual fact the theatres, with the Red being the biggest, it has a seating capacity of 436 people , the blue box is a 120 seater and the baby of the three is the yellow box that seats 80 people.

Soweto Theatre


The last activity on our list for the day was the Orlando Towers. Orlando Power Station is a decommissioned coal-fired power station that was commissioned at the end of the Second World War and served Johannesburg for over 50 years. It was shut down in 1998 and transformed into an entertainment and business centre in 2008. For the brave people they can do the bungee jump from the top of the 33 storey towers that are covered in brightly coloured murals. If you are not an adrenaline junkee , enjoy some tasty flame grilled meat and pap at the popular shisa nyama restaurant , Chaf Pozi and watch the fearless as they swing from their rope.
On your way out take a moment to stop at the curio shop and sit on the chair made out of car tyres, it is surprisingly very comfortable.

The Orlando Tower
Curio shop where the chair is made of tyres

Must do’s

When touring the streets of Soweto besides looking out for the tourist attractions there are some local tips also. If you spot the women braiding hair stop and watch them, its amazing how fast their fingers work.
The men often have some interesting outfits on, with bright colours and shiny shoes that they are very proud of, don’t be shy to ask them for a photo. They are very proud of their look.
Lastly when you see a women making fresh magwinya ,a township version of the vetkoek, but a little bit sweeter, you must try one. A common street food that is seen in the mornings as people rush to work, stopping at vendors and buying three in packet for R10.

Street Fashion
Making of magwinya

One day is not enough to see Soweto, but its a good start. You will leave wanting more. It oozes with life and there are stories around every corner waiting to be told. Whether you choose a guided tour or to do a group tour with some friends a visit to Gautneg is not complete without visiting this township.