The day before we left South Africa to return to Toronto, we were given a tour of Soweto by a really great local guy called Tami. He was born and raised in Soweto and still lives there. He works as a tour operator now and spent the day taking us around his neighbourhood. Though neighbourhood isn’t quite the correct term since the official population of Soweto is around 2.5 million (the unofficial is probably closer to 3.5 million).
Seeing Soweto was something that was on our To-Do list the entire trip, but it just seemed to get lost in all the other stuff we were doing. Thankfully we made it there the day before we left because it was an incredible experience.
Soweto is a lot like South Africa. It’s a total mixed bag. You have really beautiful modern houses just streets away from squatter camps. Flashy guys (known in Soweto as Cheese Boys) rolling around in BMWs and haggard-out drunkards scuffling across the intersections. Mostly, though, the place has an incredible vibe and life in Soweto seems to be lived at a frenetic pace.
Tami showed us all the tourist spots like Nelson Mandela’s first house and the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum. He also had us sample some local Umqombothi and street food (boiled cow’s head and pap). And he took us to a squatter camp to distribute some vegetables and fruit to some mothers and kids who were waiting to move into government housing.
As we were driving into Soweto we asked Tami if we’d be going by the Nike Football Soweto Training Facility and he said we would be driving past it. We asked if we could go check it out and he was happy to take us, we think Tami was even more excited once inside than we were… This visit to the Nike Football Soweto Training Facility was also one of the highlights of the trip for us. It’s an incredible building and gave us a lot of inspiration. Each of the eight changing rooms accurately reflects the actual changing rooms of some of the world’s biggest clubs like Arsenal, Manchester United, Boca Juniors, Juventus and Barcelona.
After the jump are a load of photos from our visit.