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What Is Soweto Famous For?

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Wondering what exactly made the streets of Soweto famous? The establishment of the township in the 1930s started as a result of racial segregation, keep reading to find out more about the history of Soweto and its people.

Soweto began as a product of apartheid in South Africa. It has since evolved into a dynamic, vibrant township. But what is this township famous for today? We rounded up a few things and spots that have made Soweto a remarkable tplace.

What does Soweto stand for? 

Firstly, let's break the name down for you. The acronym Soweto is derived from South-Western Townships and of course it is situated in the South of Johannesburg. Here are some things that make Soweto what it is today. 

Soweto Uprising

The Soweto Uprising emerged as a demonstration against the government's fixation on using Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in schools in the township. The implementation of the Bantu Education Act in 1953 caused an uproar. On 16 June 1976, the students of Soweto took to the streets to demonstrate their grievances. Today, that date is commemorated as Youth Day. South Africans continue to remember the youth of Soweto who took a stand against the Apartheid government and its absurd policies.

Famous Historic Attractions

Soweto is known for having immense history portrayed by the many buildings and museums that commemorate the heroes of the struggle and document events that occurred during Apartheid. Some of the historic attractions include the Nelson Mandela House, Hector Pieterson Memorial, Regina Mundi, Walter Sisulu Square and the Credo Mutwa Cultural Village. 

Vilakazi Street

What is Soweto without the iconic Vilakazi Street? Here you will find the former home of President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Also, there is a cafe where the two Nobel prize winners used to meet. There are restaurants, coffee shops and lots of entertainment in the vicinity. Some of the famous entertainment and food spots include Sakhumzi, Vuyo’s restaurant and Restaurant Vilakazi. 

vilikazi street

Soweto Towers

Formerly known as Orlando Power Station, the decommissioned coal-fired power station is now a place to go for a thrill. The two iconic Soweto towers are indeed a landmark in the township. For the thrill of a lifetime, take to the skies (for a moment) and bungee jump off the top of the Orlando Cooling Towers. Interested in base jumping? Look no further! The Soweto Towers are base jump friendly, offering base jumping as an option for experienced jumpers. 


Kliptown is best recognized for hosting the Congress of the People in 1955, which resulted in the adoption of the Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter was signed in Kliptown in 1955. The museum at the central square which is Freedom Square or Walter Sisulu Square, commemorates this event. 

Avalon Cemetery

Soweto is also home to South Africa's largest cemetery. This cemetery started as a result of Apartheid. It was a burial site specifically for Black people. Today, the site is rich with history as it is the resting place for many struggle activists. The likes of Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Hector Pieterson, Charlotte Maxeke, and Tsietsi Mashinini are amongst the many struggle heroes that the site pays homage to. Avalon's graves pay tribute to those who fought for justice and remain a symbol of resilience against the Apartheid government.

Soweto Derby

The Soweto Derby is a football rivalry in South Africa between the Premier Soccer League's Kaizer Chiefs and the Orlando Pirates. It was first held on January 24, 1970. Matches between the two rivals draw a significant crowd and it is all a buzz! Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates supporters come in high spirits to support their teams. So far, Kaizer Chiefs has the most Derby wins!

The Nightlife

The nightlife of Soweto is one to rave about. It has become the talk of the town with clubs like KONKA becoming one of the premium clubs in the city. If you're in the neighbourhood or simply want to make your search for Soweto nightlife a little easier, come and dance the night away at some of the top bars and pubs in Soweto.

soweto nightlife

Crowd at Zone 6 during the Red Bull Music Academy Weekender in Soweto, South Africa on September 4th, 2016

Maponya Mall

Maponya Mall is a huge mall in the heart of Soweto and it has created a place for local Soweto businesses to flourish amidst other retailers. It is within walking distance from the Kliptown Tourism Precinct, University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus, and a short drive from the Vilakazi Street tourism precinct. To find out more about Soweto's most loved and busiest mall, click here

Maponya Mall

Image from Maponya Mall.

If you've ever visited or live in Soweto, let us know some of your favourite things and places in the area. Be sure to read more about Soweto here

Written by Tendani Rabali.


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