Soweto

The City of Johannesburg has compiled an excellent self-guided bus tour of Soweto. My South African hosts and I decided to do the tour one Saturday morning. Serendipitously, we reached the Jo’burg Theater Rea Vaya station just as city council members were boarding a special Rea Vaya bus for their own guided tour of the corridor. We were invited to join them, and I loved the tour and the chance to talk with some of the city and PioTrans officials.

We disembarked in front of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s house, then continued with the official delegation up Vilakazi Street past some captivating public art and the former residence of Nelson Mandela (now a museum). At the memorial to Hector Pieterson, we turned and went down the hill, hopping on a Rea Vaya T1 bus and continuing to the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication. Rea Vaya does an excellent job of providing easily-comprehensible, efficient, and reliable transportation service to Soweto. Not only does this provide a much-needed service for Soweto’s residents, it also enables residents from other parts of South Africa to more comfortably visit these historic sites. Many of those who visit for the first time are pleasantly surprised by the quick trip on Rea Vaya and the warm welcome they receive in Soweto, a place that, in the country’s historical memory, is far-removed from Johannesburg.

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