Soweto

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Soweto is an urban area in the City of Johannesburg, in Gauteng, South Africa. Its name is an English syllabic abbreviation, short for South Western Townships, subsequently referred to by relocating residents and other South Africans as "So Where To".

History

The history of African townships south west of Johannesburg that would later form Soweto was propelled by the increasing eviction of Africans by city and state authorities. Africans had been drawn to work on the gold mines that sprang up after 1886. From the start they were accommodated in separate areas on the outskirts of Johannesburg, such as Brickfields (Newtown) [1]. In 1904 British-controlled city authorities removed African and Indian residents of Brickfields to an "evacuation camp" at Klipspruit municipal sewage farm (not Kliptown, a separate township[2]) outside the Johannesburg municipal boundary, following a reported outbreak of plague [3]. Two further townships were laid out to the east and the west of Johannesburg in 1918. Townships to the south west of Johannesburg followed, starting with Pimville (1934; a renamed part of Klipspruit) and Orlando (1935) [4].

Industrialisation during World War II drew thousands of black workers to the Reef. They were also propelled by the implementation of legislation that rendered many rural Africans landless. Informal settlements developed to meet the growing lack of housing. The Sofasonke movement of James Mpanza in 1944 organised the occupation of vacant land in the area, at what became known as Masakeng (Orlando West). Partly as a result of Mpanza's actions, the city council was forced to set up emergency camps in Orlando (1944), Moroka, and Central Western Jabavu (1946) [5].

Soweto's only hospital came courtesy of World War II. The Royal Imperial Hospital, Baragwanath, was built in what today is Diepkloof in 1941 for convalescing British and Commonwealth soldiers [6]. John Albert Baragwanath owned a hostel, The Wayside Inn, from the late 19th century near the hospital's current location [7]. Field Marshall Jan Smuts noted during the opening ceremonies that the facility would be used for the area's black population after the war. In 1947 King George VI visited and presented medals to the troops there [8]. From this start grew Baragwanath Hospital (as it became known after 1948), reputedly the world's largest hospital [9]. In 1997 another name change followed, with the sprawling facility now known as Hani-Baragwanath Hospital, in honour of the African National Congress leader who was assassinated in 1993 by white extremists [10].

After the Afrikaner-dominated National Party gained power in 1948 and began to implement apartheid, the pace of forced removals and the creation of townships outside legally-designated white areas increased. The Johannesburg council established new townships to the southwest for black Africans evicted from the city's freehold areas of Martindale, Sophiatown), and Alexandra. Some townships were basic site and service plots (Tladi, Zondi, Dhlamini, Chiawelo, Senaoane, 1954), while at Dube middle class residents built their own houses. The first hostel to accommodate migrant workers evicted from the inner city in 1955 was built at Dube. The following year houses were built in the newly proclaimed townships of Meadowlands and Diepkloof [11].

In 1956 townships were laid out for particular ethnic groups as part of the state's strategy to sift black Africans into groupings that would later form the building blocks of the so-called "independent homelands." Spurred by a donation of R6-million to the state by Sir Ernest Oppenheimer in 1956 for housing in the area, Naledi, Mapetla, Tladi, Moletsane and Phiri were created to house Sotho and Tswana-speakers. Zulu and Xhosa speakers were accommodated in Dhlamini, Senaoane, Zola, Zondi, Jabulani, Emdeni and White City. Chiawelo was established for Tsonga and Venda-speaking residents [12].

In 1963, the name Soweto (SOuth WEstern TOwnship) was officially adopted for the sprawling township that now occupied what had been the farms of Doornkop, Klipriviersoog, Diepkloof, Klipspruit and Vogelstruisfontein.

Soweto came to the world's attention on June 16, 1976 with the Soweto Uprising, when mass protests erupted over the government's policy to enforce education in Afrikaans rather than English. Police opened fire in Orlando West on 10,000 students[13] marching from Naledi High School to Orlando Stadium, and in the events that unfolded, 566 people died [14]. The impact of the Soweto protests reverberated through the country and across the world. In their aftermath, economic and cultural sanctions were introduced from abroad. Political activists left the country to train for guerilla resistance. Soweto and other townships became the stage for violent state repression. Since 1991 this date and the schoolchildren have been commemorated by the International Day of the African Child.

In response, the apartheid state started providing electricity to more Soweto homes, yet phased out financial support for building additional housing [15].

Soweto became an independent municipality with elected black councillors in 1983, in line with the Black Local Authorities Act [16]. Previously the townships were governed by the Johannesburg council, but from the 1970s the state took control [17].

Soweto's black African councillors were not provided by the apartheid state with the finances to address housing and infrastructural problems. Township residents opposed the black councillors as puppet collaborators who personally benefitted financially from an oppressive regime. Resistance was spurred by the exclusion of blacks from the newly formed tricameral Parliament (which did include Whites, Asians and Coloureds). Municipal elections in black, coloured, and Indian areas were subsequently widely boycotted, returning extremely low voting figures for years. Popular resistance to state structures dates back to the Advisory Boards (1950) that co-opted black residents to advise whites who managed the townships.

In Soweto popular resistance to apartheid emerged in various forms during the 1980s. Educational and economic boycotts were initiated, and student bodies were organised. Street committees were formed, and civic organisations were established as alternatives to state-imposed structures. One of the most well-known "civics" was Soweto's Committee of Ten, started in 1978 in the offices of The Bantu World newspaper. Such actions were strengthened by the call issued by African National Congress's 1985 Kabwe congress in Zambia to make South Africa ungovernable. As the state forbade public gatherings, church buildings like Regina Mundi were sometimes used for political gatherings.

In 1995 Soweto became part of the Southern Metropolitan Transitional Local Council, and in 2002 was incorporated into the City of Johannesburg [18]. A series of bomb explosions rocked Soweto in October 2002. The explosions, believed to be the work of the Boeremag, a right wing extremist group, damaged buildings and railway lines, and killed one person.

Demographics

As Soweto was counted as part of Johannesburg in South Africa's 2001 census, recent demographic statistics are not readily available. It has been estimated that 65% of Johannesburg's residents live in Soweto [19] (2002 figures). However, the 2001 Census put its population at 896,995—[20] - or about one-third of the city's total population.

Soweto's population is overwhelmingly black. All eleven of the country's official languages are spoken, and the main linguistic groups in descending order of size are Zulu, Sotho, Tswana, Venda, and Tsonga.

Suburbs

By 2003 the Greater Soweto area consisted of 87 townships grouped together into Administrative Regions 6 and 10 of the City of Johannesburg Regional Spatial Development Framework.

Estimates of how many residential areas make up Soweto itself vary widely. Some say that Soweto comprises 29 townships [21], others find 32 [22]. Still others talk of 34 [23] or even 50 [24] "suburbs." The differences may be due to confusion arising from the merger of adjoining townships (such as Lenasia and Eldorado Park) with those of Soweto into Regions 6 and 10. But the total number also depends on whether the various "extensions" and "zones" are counted separately, or as part of one main suburb. The 2003 Regional Spatial Development Framework arrived at 87 names by counting various extensions (e.g. Chiawelo's 5) and zones (e.g. Pimville's 7) separately. The City of Johannesburg's website groups the zones and extensions together to arrive at 32, but omits Noordgesig and Mmesi Park.[25]

The list below provides the dates when some of Soweto's townships were established, along with the probable origins or meanings of their names, where available:
  • Chiawelo (1956), "Place of Rest" (Venda)
  • Dhlamini (1956), Unknown, Nguni family name
  • Diepmeadow, comprising
  • Diepkloof (1957; "Deep Ravine", Afrikaans), originally a farm
  • Meadowlands (1958), Originally Meadowlands Small Holdings (1938)
  • Meadowlands West
  • Dobsonville including Dobsonville Gardens
  • Doornkop, "Hill of Thorns" (Afrikaans)
  • Dube (1948), Named for John Langalibalele Dube (1871-1946), educator http://www.dacb.org/stories/southafrica/dube_john.html, newspaper founder, and the first ANC president (1912-17) http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/people/dube.html
  • Emdeni (1958), "At the family" (Zulu, from umndeni - family), including extensions
  • Jabavu (1948), Named for Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu (1885-1959), educator and author
  • Jabulani (1956), "Rejoice" (Zulu)
  • Klipspruit (1904), "Rocky Stream" (Afrikaans), originally a farm map
  • Kliptown
  • Mapetla (1956), including Mapetla Extension (1962), Unknown Sotho family name
  • Mmesi Park
  • Mofolo (1954), including (Mofolo Central, Mofolo North, Mofolo South), Named for Thomas Mofolo (1876-1948), Sotho author, translator, and educator
  • Molapo (1956), Name of a Basotho tribe
  • Moletsane (1956), Name of a Batuang chief
  • Moroka (1946), including Moroka North (1955), Named for Dr James Sebe Moroka (1891-1985)http://www.sahistory.org.za/pages/people/moroka-js.htm, later ANC president (1949-52) during the 1952 Defiance Campaign
  • Naledi (1956), "Star" (Sotho/Pedi/Tswana), originally Mkizi
  • Noordgesig, "North View" (Afrikaans)
  • Orlando (1932), including (Orlando East, Orlando West, 1946), Named for Edwin Orlando Leake (1860-1935), chairman of the Non-European Affairs Department (1930-31), Johannesburg mayor (1925-26)
  • Phiri (1956) and Phiri Extension, "Hyena" (Sotho)
  • Pimville (1934), Named for James Howard Pim, councillor (1903-07), Quaker http://worship.quaker.org/qfp/displaypassage.asp?passageid=506, philanthropist, and patron of Fort Hare Native College http://www.liberation.org.za/main/ufh.php; originally part of Klipspruit
  • Power Park, in the vicinity of the power station
  • Protea Glen, Unknown (The protea is South Africa's national flower)
  • Protea North
  • Protea South
  • Senaoane (1958), Named for Solomon G Senaoane (-1942), first sports organiser in the Non-European Affairs Department
  • Tladi (1956), "Lightning" (Sotho)
  • Zola (1956), "Calm" (Zulu/Xhosa)
  • Zondi (1956), Unknown (Zulu)
Other Soweto townships include Braamfischerville, Killarney, Mzimhlope, Phefeni, Phomolong, Snake Park, and White City [26].

A full description of the origins of the names of these suburbs can be found at Urban legends - what's in a name?.

Economy

Enlarge picture
Informal settlement, Soweto.
Many parts of Soweto rank among the poorest in Johannesburg, although individual townships tend to have a mix of wealthier and poorer residents. In general, households in the outlying areas to the northwest and southeast have lower incomes, while those in southwestern areas tend to have higher incomes.

The economic development of Soweto was severely curtailed by the apartheid state, which provided very limited infrastructure and prevented residents from creating their own businesses. Roads remained unpaved, and many residents had to share one tap between four houses, for example. Soweto was meant to exist only as a dormitory town for black Africans who worked in white houses, factories, and industries. The 1957 Natives (Urban Areas) Consolidation Act and its predecessors restricted residents between 1923 to 1976 to seven self-employment categories in Soweto itself. Sowetans could operate general shops, butcheries, eating houses, sell milk or vegetables, or hawk goods. The overall number of such enterprises at any time were strictly controlled. As a result, informal trading developed outside the legally-recognized activities [27].

By 1976 Soweto had only two cinemas and two hotels, and only 20% of houses had electricity. Residents resorted to using fire for cooking and heating, resulting in respiratory problems that contributed to high infant mortality rates (54 per 1,000 compared to 18 for whites, 1976 figures [28]

Enlarge picture
Housing development project, Kliptown.
The restrictions on economic activities were lifted in 1977, spurring the growth of the taxi industry as an alternative to Soweto's inadequate bus and train transport systems [29].

In 1994 Sowetans earned on average almost six and a half times less than their counterparts in wealthier areas of Johannesburg (1994 estimates). Sowetans contribute less than 2% to Johannesburg's rates [30]). Some Sowetans remain impoverished, and others live in shanty towns with little or no services. About 85% of Kliptown comprises informal housing, for example [31]. The Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee argues that Soweto's poor are unable to pay for electricity. The committee believes that the South African government's privatization drives will worsen the situation. Research showed that 62% of residents in Orlando East and Pimville were unemployed or pensioners [32].

There have been signs recently indicating economic improvement. The Johannesburg city council began to provide more street lights and to pave roads. Private initiatives to tap Sowetans' combined spending power of R4,3 billion were also planned, [33]. including the construction of Protea Mall, and Jabulani Mall , the planned development of Mponya Mall, an upmarket hotel in Kliptown, and the Orlando Ekhaya entertainment centre. Soweto has also become a center for nightlife and culture.

Famous Sowetans

Soweto was the birthplace of: Current and past residents include:
Enlarge picture
Mandela's House in Orlando

Other interest

Well-known artists from Soweto, besides those mentioned above, include: Films that include Soweto scenes:

Landmarks

Enlarge picture
Orlando Power Station Cooling Towers
Soweto landmarks, apart from those mentioned above, include [34]:

See also

References

Beavon, Keith S. O. Johannesburg: A city and metropolitan area in transformation, in Carole Rakodi (editor) The urban challenge in Africa: Growth and management of its large cities. Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 1997.

It is also mentioned in the novel, Waiting for the Rain by Sheila Gordon.

Mexican group Tijuana No! recorded the song "Soweto" for their first album "No". In reference to the city and the movements.

It is also the name of a song by the rap group Hieroglyphics.

External links

Coordinates:
For the suburb of Johannesberg see Soweto
Soweto is a constituency in the Khomas Region of Namibia. Its population is 13,809. This constituency is inside the city of Windhoek, and is a township created by the then apartheid government of Namibia.
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Apartheid (meaning separate-ness in Afrikaans, cognate to English apart and -hood ) was a system of racial segregation in South Africa from 1948, and was dismantled in a series of negotiations from 1990 to 1993, culminating in democratic elections in
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Sharpeville massacre, also known as the Sharpeville shootings, occurred on March 21, 1960, when South African police began shooting on a crowd of black protesters. The confrontation occurred in the township of Sharpeville, in what is now Gauteng province.
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Soweto uprising or Soweto riots were a series of riots in Soweto, South Africa on June 16, 1976 between black youths and the South African authorities. The riots grew out of protests against the policies of the National Party government and its apartheid regime.
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Treason Trial was a trial in which 156 people (105 Blacks, 21 Indians, 23 Whites and 7 Coloureds), including Nelson Mandela, were arrested in a raid and accused of treason in South Africa in 1956.
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Rivonia Trial was an infamous trial which took place in South Africa between 1963 and 1964, in which ten leaders of the African National Congress were tried for 221 acts of sabotage designed to "ferment[sic] violent revolution" [1] to overthrow the apartheid system.
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The Church Street bombing was a 1983 attack by the Umkhonto we Sizwe in the South African capital Pretoria, killing 19 and wounded more than 200.[1][2] The bombing was one of the biggest attacks committed by the ANC during its armed struggle against apartheid.
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negotiations between 1990 and 1993 and through unilateral steps by the De Klerk government. These negotiations took place between the governing National Party, the African National Congress, and a wide variety of other political organisations.
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The St James Church massacre was a massacre perpetrated on St James Church, Cape Town by the Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA).

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During the Sunday evening service on 25 July 1993, a group of APLA cadres attacked the St. James Church in Kenilworth.
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African National Congress (ANC) has been South Africa's governing party, supported by its tripartite alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP), since the establishment of majority rule in May 1994.
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Black Sash was a non-violent white women's resistance organization founded in 1955 in South Africa by Jean Sinclair. The Black Sash initially campaigned against the removal of Coloured or mixed race voters from the voters' roll in the Cape Province by the National Party government.
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Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB) was a covert, special forces organisation in the apartheid era whose objectives[1] were:
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The Herstigte Nasionale Party van Suid-Afrika (Reconstituted National Party of South Africa) was formed as a right wing splinter group of the South African National Party.

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Umkhonto we Sizwe (or MK), translated "Spear of the Nation", was the active military wing of the African National Congress in cooperation with the South African Communist Party in their fight against the South African apartheid regime.
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United Democratic Front (UDF) was one of the most important anti-apartheid organisations of the 1980s. The non-racial coalition of about 400 civic, church, students', workers' and other organisations (national, regional and local) was formed in 1983, initially to fight the
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Afrikaner Broederbond (AB) (meaning Afrikaner Brotherhood) or Broederbond was a secret, exclusively male, Protestant organization in South Africa dedicated to the advancement of Afrikaner interests. Founded by HJ Klopper, HW van der Merwe, DHC du Plessis and Rev.
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Pieter Willem Botha (January 12 1916 – October 31 2006), commonly known as "P. W." and Die Groot Krokodil (Afrikaans for "The Big Crocodile"), was the prime minister of South Africa from 1978 to 1984 and the first executive state president from 1984 to 1989.
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Joshua Oupa Gqozo (10 March 1952 - ) was the military ruler of the former homeland of Ciskei in South Africa.

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