Soweto is a township of the city of Johannesburg in Gauteng, South Africa, bordering the city's mining belt in the south. Its name is an Englishsyllabic abbreviation for SouthWestern Townships.
Formerly a separate municipality, it is now incorporated in the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Suburbs of Johannesburg.
The name Soweto was first used in 1963 to describe the groups of townships to the south west of Johannesburg and is an acronym for South Western Townships. These townships were originally established after an outbreak of bubonic plague in the inner city slums of Johannesburg in 1904, but under the apartheid government, many black South Africans were forcefully relocated from the city and its suburbs to Soweto and other townships.
|TIME ZONE :|
|RELIGION :||Zion Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Catholic 7.1%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%, Muslim 1.5%, other Christian 36%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1%|
|AREA :||200.03 square kilometres (77.23 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||1,600 m (5,200 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||26°15′58″S 27°51′57″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.62|
• Female: 50.38
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :||4309|
|DIALING CODE :|
|WEBSITE :||Official Website|
Soweto landmarks include:
- Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Diepkloof
- Soweto Wall of Fame
- Orlando Towers
- Mandela House
- Tutu House
- Credo Mutwa village, Central Western Jabavu
- Walter Sisulu Square, Kliptown
- Regina Mundi, Rockville
- Freedom Towers
- SAAF 1723, a decommissioned Avro Shackleton of the South African Air Force is on static display on the roof of Vic's Viking Garage, a service station on the Golden Highway.
The history of South African townships south west of Johannesburg that would later form Soweto was propelled by the increasing eviction of black South Africans by city and state authorities. Black South Africans had been drawn to work on the gold mines that were established after 1886. From the start they were accommodated in separate areas on the outskirts of Johannesburg, such as Brickfields (Newtown). In 1904 British-controlled city authorities removed black South African and Indian residents of Brickfields to an "evacuation camp" at Klipspruit municipal sewage farm (not Kliptown, a separate township) outside the Johannesburg municipal boundary, following a reported outbreak of plague. 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 in 1934 (a renamed part of Klipspruit) and Orlando in 1935.
World War I
Industrialization during World War I drew thousands of black workers to the Reef. They were also propelled by legislation that rendered many rural black Africans landless. Informal settlements developed to meet the growing lack of housing. The Sofasonke squatter's 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 and Moroka, and later in Central Western Jabavu.
Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital
The Imperial Military Hospital Baragwanath, named after Cornishman John Albert Baragwanath, was built in 1941 during the Second World War to serve as a British Military Hospital. John Albert Baragwanath initially owned the situated site as a hostel,The Wayside Inn, until the British Government paid £328,000 to make it a hospital.Field-Marshal 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. From this start grew Baragwanath Hospital(as it became known after 1948), reputedly the world's third largest hospital. In 1997 another name change followed, with the sprawling facility now known as Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in honour of the South African Communist Party leader who was assassinated in 1993 by white extremists.
Government policy from 1948
After the Afrikaaner-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.
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 $6 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. Tshiawelo was established for Tsonga- and Venda-speaking residents.
In 1963, the name Soweto (SOuth WEstern TOwnships) 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 16 June 1976 with the Soweto Uprising, when mass protests erupted over the government's policy to enforce education in Afrikaans rather than their native language. Police opened fire in Orlando West on 10,000 students marching from Naledi High School to Orlando Stadium. The rioting continued and 23 people died on the first day in Soweto, 21 of whom were black, including the minor Hector Pieterson, as well as two white people, including Melville Edelstein, a lifelong humanitarian.
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 guerrilla 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.
Soweto became an independent municipality with elected black councilors in 1983, in line with the Black Local Authorities Act. Previously the townships were governed by the Johannesburg council, but from the 1970s the state took control.
Black African councilors were not provided by the apartheid state with the finances to address housing and infrastructural problems. Township residents opposed the black councilors as puppet collaborators who personally benefited 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 Coloreds). 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.
Further popular resistance: incorporation into the City
In Soweto, popular resistance to apartheid emerged in various forms during the 1980s. Educational and economic boycotts were initiated, and student bodies were organized. Street committees were formed, and civic organizations 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. 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.
Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as subtropical highland (Cwb)
Climate data for Soweto
|Average high °C (°F)||26.4|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||20.4|
|Average low °C (°F)||14.4|
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 and 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.
By 1976 Soweto had only two cinemas and two hotels, and only 83% of houses had electricity. Up to 93% of residents had no running water. Using fire for cooking and heating resulted in respiratory problems that contributed to high infant mortality rates (54 per 1,000 compared to 18 for whites, 1976 figures.
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.
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. Some Sowetans remain impoverished, and others live in shanty towns with little or no services. About 85% of Kliptown comprises informal housing. 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.
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 including the construction of Protea Mall, Jabulani Mall, the development of Maponya Mall, an upmarket hotel in Kliptown, and the Orlando Ekhaya entertainment centre. Soweto has also become a centre for nightlife and culture.
By 2003 the Greater Soweto area consisted of 87 townships grouped together into Administrative Regions 6 and 10 of Johannesburg.
Estimates of how many residential areas make up Soweto itself vary widely. Some counts say that Soweto comprises 29 townships, whilst others find 34. 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. 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.
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:
|Name||Established||Origin of name|
|Tshiawelo||1956||"Place of Rest" (Venda)|
|Dlamini||1956||Unknown, Nguni family name. Michael Mabaso also comes from here. This is a township with of a working class population who travel by train to work.|
|Dobsonville||including Dobsonville Gardens|
|Doornkop||"Hill of Thorns" (Afrikaans)|
|Dube||1948||Named for John Langalibalele Dube (1871–1946), educator,newspaper founder, and the first ANC president (1912–17)|
|Emdeni||1958||"A border, last township before Mogale City (then Krugersdorp Municipality)" (Xhosa), including extensions|
|Jabavu||1948||Named for Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu (1885–1959), educator and author|
|Klipspruit||1904||"Rocky Stream" (Afrikaans), originally a farm.|
|Kliptown||" Rocky Town", Constructed from Afrikaans for rock (klip), and the English word "town".|
|Mapetla||1956||Someone who is angry (Setswana)|
|Meadowlands||Also nicknamed "Ndofaya"|
|Mmesi Park||Sotho name for somebody who burns things on fire|
|Mofolo||1954||Named for Thomas Mofolo (1876–1948), Sotho author, translator, and educator|
|Molapo||1956||Name of a Basotho tribe, Sotho name for fetique|
|Moletsane||1956||Name of a Bataung chief, (Bataung is a Sotho clan named after the lion, 'tau')|
|Moroka||1946||Named for Dr James Sebe Moroka (1891–1985),later ANC president (1949–52) during the 1952 Defiance Campaign|
|Naledi||1956||"Star" (Sotho/Pedi/Tswana), originally Mkizi|
|Noordgesig||"North View" (Afrikaans)|
|Orlando||1932||Named for Edwin Orlando Leake (1860–1935), chairman of the Non-European Affairs Department (1930–31), Johannesburg mayor (1925–26)|
|Pimville||1934||Named for James Howard Pim, councillor (1903–07), Quaker, philanthropist, and patron of Fort Hare Native College; originally part of Klipspruit|
|Power Park||In the vicinity of the power station|
|Protea Glen||Unknown (The protea is South Africa's national flower)|
|Senaoane||1958||Named for Solomon G Senaoane (−1942), first sports organiser in the Non-European Affairs Department|
|Tladi||1956||"Lightning" (Northern Sotho)|
|Zondi||1956||Unknown family name (Zulu)|
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