South Africa, Soweto A Sad History

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Dec 21st, 2011, 12:07 PM
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South Africa, Soweto A Sad History

Nothing saddens my heart more than the death of the innocent especially when it involves children. Standing at the Hector Peterson Memorial in Soweto, I am taken back to a time when such an event occurred. Even today it is hard to imagine the horror when in June 1976 police opened fire on 15,000 student participating in a peaceful demonstration. On that sad day in South Africa's history about 600 students innocently lost their lives for a just cause.

Forever a Hero, Hector Peterson was one of the youngest victims in South Africa's struggle to free itself from an oppressive white minority ruled government. With sad consolation, it can now be said that Hector and may others did not sacrifice their lives in vain.

A more recognized proponent of South Africa's fight from an oppressive government lived not too far away from where the student uprising occurred on June 16th, 1976. At 8115 Orlando West, I am at the former home of Nelson Mandela which is now a museum. Here, one can get just a glimpse of the struggles of those who opposed the government. Bullet holes can still be seen on the exterior walls of the home and you can hear Mrs. Mandela share her side of the experience.

The museum also displays many of Nelson Mandela's memorabilia including letters written while he spent 27 years in prison, awards and gifts including a Title Belt from a fellow boxer like himself, Sugar Ray Leonard. In his struggle to free South Africa, Nelson Mandela went from prison, returned to Soweto, won the Noble Peace Prize and eventually became South Africa's President.

Today, Mr. Mandela is in his 90's and is believed to live somewhere in the Eastern Cape.

Although the museum itself is small, the things that happened here played a huge part not only in South Africa's past but also what it has become and will continue to be in the future. Today, what happened in Soweto many decades ago is proof that good can overcome evil, that all should live free of oppression.

Did you know that Archbishop Desmond Tutu another Nobel Peace Prize winner lives just blocks from 8115 Orlando West? I imagine it is a rare occurrence to have two Nobel Prize winners that are practically neighbors.

Understanding what occurred here, it is not surprising that both Mandela and Archbishop Tutu won this prestigious award. A due recognition of what happens when you represent the best of humanity and what we can all achieve when the human spirit is triumphant.


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Dec 21st, 2011, 05:16 PM
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We visited Soweto this summer-- a very moving experience for us and for our children. Also fyi Mandela has a home in J-burg-- we drove by it.
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Dec 21st, 2011, 07:32 PM
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jeanned,

I share your feelings about Soweto. Interestingly, I only drove thru J-burg. It does not surprise me that Mandela also has a home there. However, we were told he now resides somewhere in the Eastern Cape.

I did have the good fortunate to spend some time with the locals in Soweto which definitely added to my experience there
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 01:38 AM
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One of the many places worldwide where Xenophobia rears its ugly head.At least things are moving in the right direction
there unlike many other places I have been...Kudos to Mandela
and all the martyrs who shall NEVER be forgotten.

"Hatred never ceaes with Hatred" G. Buddha
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 06:13 AM
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qwovadis,

My experience in Soweto may have been unique but I felt nothing but welcomed there. I even received offers for free accommodations the next time I visit.

With one of the locals I talked about the issue you mentioned and he felt that in the past there was a definite disconnect between the locals and the tourists. This I think leads to the fear you mention.

The local, "Jo-bo-low" told me that as kids they found it strange that tourists would come to Soweto and drive through their neighborhood but remain in the protection of their buses. Looking at them as if they were on a tour at the zoo.

However, out of this, a friend of his came up with the idea of a bike tour of Soweto. This allows more people to people contact and moves things in the right direction.

For sure Soweto has it's issues like many other improvished cities around the world. However, it also has people with pure hearts and seeing things from their prespective gives me hope that work is been done to make it a better place to live and visit
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Dec 23rd, 2011, 08:43 AM
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The bike tour of Soweto would be great!
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Dec 30th, 2011, 06:20 AM
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A few years ago we were in SA and also appreciated the Peterson memorial, nearby musuem, Tutu house in Soweto plus the Apartheid Museum in J'burg. Yes, there is indeed a violent history but also a triumphant change that has taken place. One can hope that the government and people today can overcome some serious challenges ahead...economic, educational, etc.
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Dec 31st, 2011, 12:36 AM
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Ozarksbill,

I share your sentiments, regret I did not visit Apartheid Museum in J'burg.
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