We flew into Johannesburg in the afternoon and discovered that our hotel was attached to a casino, close to the airport. We were surprised but when we saw the size of Johannesburg we understood. The city is huge and is not easy to negotiate when one is wanting to catch a plane, which we would have to do a full day later. The casino is fashioned after Las Vegas, with no windows or clocks and with a Venitian theme. We found a restaurant within sight of a copy of Michaelangelo's David, under a fake blue sky painted ceiling, with the dragon dance taking plgace to mark the chinese new year! Strange indeed!
The next morning we were met by our guide Lucky for a one day tour of Soweto and ending with a visit to the apartheid museum. It was pouring rain and this made it difficult to see as much as we might have otherwise.
Soweto is a black neighbourhood steming from the apartheid years. Its name is a contraction of 'southwest township' and is an area which was set aside during the gold rush years to house the black workers from the mines. These workers were housed in hostels, some of which are still occupied to thus day, with no plumbing or electricity. They were gender specific and families were seperated as a result. Over time homes were built by the hovernment tfor residents, but these were small and sqalid. With legal changes, residents were permitted to possess their homes (previous laws prohibited blacks from owning). We saw the new homes in Soweto, owned by tgeh wealthy, as well as those owned by tbe emerging middle class and also some of the hostels which are still standing, and occupied. We also saw shanty towns, corregated iron sheds pressed together in muddy fields with no sewage and electricity stollen from nearby streetlights. Pelting rains made pictures difficult.
We also visited freedom square. This is the location where the 10 principles behind the current constitution were originally developed in 1954. The "X" could be seen in many of the symbols constructed in tge square, this being the symbol for voting, a right now granted to all citizens, and one for which there has been a long and controversial fight.
We finished our tour with a visit to The Apartheid Museum. This was a moving experience. Visitors are randomly split into white and non-white at the entrance and must enter through seperate entrances and experience the initial exhibits seperately. A sobering experience indeed.