News / Africa

Soweto Shows Uneven Development After 18 Years of Democracy

Soweto Shows Uneven Development After 18 Years of Democracyi
|| 0:00:00
X
November 29, 2012
The township of Soweto, a symbol of the struggles against racial discrimination in South Africa, has changed. Eighteen years after Nelson Mandela became president, some promises have not been not kept, although optimism is still present. The former ghetto has turned into a place of hope, a cultural hub where a new middle class has emerged. The road out of poverty is long, hoever, and challenges remain. But as Emilie Iob reports from Soweto, the road out of poverty is long, and challenges remain.
TEXT SIZE - +
— The township of Soweto, a symbol of the struggles against racial discrimination in South Africa, has changed. Eighteen years after Nelson Mandela became president, some promises have not been not kept, although optimism is still present. The former ghetto has turned into a place of hope, a cultural hub where a new middle class has emerged. The road out of poverty is long, however, and challenges remain.

Tourists cycling fearlessly in Soweto are finishing up a historical tour in one of the world's most famous townships, where they are taught about life during white-minority rule, known as apartheid.

On the historic Vilakasi street, where Nobel Prize winners Mandela and Desmond Tutu used to live, we now find fancy cafés, street lights, and a wide display of luxurious cars. When he was released from prison 18 years ago, Mandela promised the Sowetans a better life. The policies of empowerment have led to a new generation determined to prove that "successful" and "Sowetans" could be compatible.

Musa Maphongwane and his business partner Amos Mtsolonga belong to the new generation of Soweto entrepreneurs. They launched a concept of a cheap gaming zone in 2006. Today, they have 11 containers with video games inside, spread out over Soweto. Local kids can come play the latest video games at cheap prices inside the containers.

"Around the township, you find that entertainment for them, is playing soccer. So we thought, maybe if we do this kind of a setup, this will bring another way of kids being able to entertain themselves," said Maphongwane.

A brief goodbye to the last group of tourists for the day, and Nkululeko Shelembe the tour guide goes back to a different Soweto, less shiny.

Just a strip of swamp separates the neat area of Pimville from the shacks of Kliptown. It is here that the freedom charter, a draft of the current South African constitution, was signed in 1955 at the height of the anti-apartheid struggle. Despite its historical importance, however, Kliptown has not benefited from the same development as other parts of Soweto.

"Kliptown is still a lower-class area. You still find people that are sharing things that are supposed to be private, like toilets, and communal water systems. You still find taps on the street," said Shelembe. "And for a fact that people are still living in tin houses or that are made of corrugated iron, that really makes it lower class for me."

Soweto, short for South West Township, is made up of 25 districts spread out over 150 square meters, and is home to 1.2 million people.  Because it was diversely developed during apartheid, the post-apartheid development didn't happen at the same pace, says Wits University History Professor Noor Nieftagodien.

"There is development, but it is an uneven development. Because next to that major development, you still have extreme poverty," Nieftagodien said.

Slowly, though, change is coming to Kliptown, too. Just next to the golf course, which separates it from a more affluent area, a string of new houses recently was built to accommodate local families.

You May Like

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

Why Europe and the US may be "whistling past the graveyard?" More

Egyptian Court Jails 23 Pro-Morsi Supporters

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say gunmen have killed two members of the country's security forces More

Pakistani Journalists Protest Shooting of Colleague

Hamid Mir, a host for private television channel Geo, was wounded after being shot three times Saturday, but is expected to survive More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Lucie wambale from: Beni town
November 30, 2012 4:07 AM
It is ok , you have shown to us what is taking place in soweto, but it coul be better to write on some other lower class area in africa lie in Bukavu/DRC there is a lower class area called Nyamugo in kadutu and other places like Birere quater in Goma. Can you tell me what are the simularty and difference when you compare the soweto in south africa and the Birere communal quater in Goma/DRc

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid