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 6:30 PM
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.
— 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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid