Friday, October 10, 2008

Diepsloot and Soweto townships

The contrast between rich and poor is unfortunatley very strong here in SA. Here in Fourways we live almost between 2 huge townships. One is Diepsloot and the other one is Soweto.

Diepsloot is a suburb in the north of Johannesburg and is a sprawling, densely populated settlement. The settlement is now home to about 150 000 people; many of them live in 3m-by-2m shacks assembled from scrap metal, wood, plastic and cardboard.
Some families lack access to basic services such as running water, sewage and rubbish removal. Residents use paraffin stoves and coal for cooking, and candles for light.

City officials estimate that half the population in the settlement is unemployed, which of course creates more violence and crime around this area. Although Gauteng province where we live is regarded as the economic mecca of Africa this doesn't apply to everybody living here! Children having children, estimated is that 1 out of 3 women in South Africa are raped at least once in their lifetime. Of course these numbers are for sure in these townships!

Then there is Soweto, a city developed as a township for black people under the apartheid system. Most of the struggle against apartheid was fought in and from Soweto. The name Soweto is an acronym, made up - in apartheid days - from the first letters of the words “south western township”.

Soweto is inhabited by over two million people, with homes ranging from extravagant mansions to makeshift shacks. Soweto is a city of enterprise and cultural interaction. It is a popular tourist destination with sites such as Kliptown (where the Freedom Charter was drawn up), the home of former President Nelson Mandela, the Hector Petersen Memorial site, restaurants and shopping malls. It boasts one of the largest hospitals on the continent and the only African-owned private clinic.

Sowetans pride themselves on being urbane and streetwise. They look down on the moegoes (country bumpkins) from the rural areas. Most residents here are rooted in the metropolis and are detribalised. Soweto is a melting pot of South African cultures and has developed its own sub-cultures - especially for the young. Afro-American influence runs deep, but is adapted to local conditions. In their speech, dress and gait, Sowetans exude a sense of cosmopolitan sophistication. Sowetans have evolved a local lingo, tsotsitaal, an eclectic mix of several local languages, Afrikaans and street slang, constantly evolving and spoken mainly by the young.


Emm said...

What an excellent post! If I am able to, I might just link a post to it this weekend. I am so tired though - I would rest all weekend in bed if I didn't have studying to do!

Nicole E. said...

Hi I really love your post. I am actually in South Africa right now working on developing my travel blog. Would it be ok if I used one of your photos to depict soweto? I would obviously give you photo credit and provide a link back to your site/post. I'd really appreciate it.



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