Like many newcomers, Vilakazi Street in Soweto was the first real tourist attraction I visited upon moving to Joburg. Here is the blog post I wrote about that visit, just a week after I arrived. (I’m a little embarrassed by the pictures and the words — I’ve come a long way since then.)
Soweto — which is technically part of Joburg but really a city-state unto itself — is a legendary place, with a population larger than many small countries and a larger-then-life history to match. I live 20 minutes from Soweto and have been there many times over the years. I’ve done walking and cycling tours in Soweto. I’ve gone to concerts and art exhibitions in Soweto. I’ve participated in numerous instawalks in Soweto. I’ve done photography jobs and charity events, run races, and visited doll factories in Soweto. But I’ve never spent the night.
So when I received an invite to be part of a social media campaign for the Soweto Wine Festival, I jumped on board. The festival is this weekend and I’ll be spending three full days sipping wine and participating in all kinds of exciting Soweto-based activities.
The best thing about this weekend is that I get to stay at the Soweto Hotel in Walter Sisulu Square, which is one of the most historical sites in Soweto and also where the wine festival is taking place. I stopped briefly in Walter Sisulu Square a few weeks ago and noticed that it has recently undergone a major upgrade, with new plantings and beautiful new public art. I’m looking forward to staying there and exploring in more depth.
Back in July I met Sipho (left) selling memorabilia in Walter Sisulu Square outside the monument to the 1955 Freedom Charter. Sipho asked me to take his photo next to this statue of Walter Sisulu.
I’ll be blogging about the Soweto Wine Festival next week and also posting on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter during the weekend itself. Follow along on the hashtags #72hrsSoweto and #SowetoWineFest.
In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite Soweto pictures that I’ve taken over the years.
Soldiers march down Vilakazi Street, honoring Nelson Mandela the weekend after he died. Orlando West, 2013.
Ladies in a taxi. Somewhere in Soweto, 2011.
A girl and her grannie. Kliptown, 2013.
Omphile, aka @omphibear, one of my favorite instagrammers and an all-around fabulous woman. Kliptown, 2014.
Little spies. Somewhere in Soweto, 2013.
Friends. Left to right: Kabelo, Zandi, Carvela, and Phili. Kliptown, 2013.
School boys, too cool for school. Baragwanath Taxi Rank, Diepkloof, 2014.
Passing the time. Somewhere in Soweto, 2013.
Cute kid. Kliptown, 2014.
As I gathered these pictures, I noticed that every one of them depicts a person or people. This says something about what makes Soweto a wonderful place to visit. Soweto is all about the history, the culture, the people, and the attitude. This weekend it will also be about the wine.
I can’t wait for 72 straight hours of Soweto.