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Strolling Through Soweto Township

Soweto Boy South Africa

Young Rapper Shows Off His Skills

Johannesburg, South Africa

Once home to Nelson Mandela, Soweto Township is a fascinating urban settlement on the outskirts of Johannesburg with much history and culture.

Last month I spent an afternoon visiting Orlando township in the Soweto district of Jozi. To help celebrate Nelson Mandela Day, here are some photos of the people and art you can find in his old neighborhood.

Orlando was once a hotspot for anti-apartheid demonstrations in the 1970’s and 80’s. The Soweto Uprising and subsequent police shootouts against protesters spread the movement across the country, helping to pave the way for a new unified South Africa.

Nelson Mandela lived in Soweto for many years before his 27 year imprisonment on Robben Island, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu also lived in the neighborhood. That’s two Nobel Prize laureates who called this area home!

Mandela’s old house on Vilakazi Street is now a popular museum.

Soweto itself is huge, with a population of over 1.3 million. It initially sprang up during the Witwatersrand Gold Rush to house black mine workers who were forbidden from living in the city center due to South Africa’s strict segregation policies at the time.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” ~ NELSON MANDELA

Mandela Mural Soweto

Nelson Mandela Mural

Streets of Soweto Township

Busy Intersection in Soweto

Pretty Girl Soweto

“Pretty” Waits for Her Bus

Orlando Towers Soweto

Colorful Orlando Cooling Towers

Barber Shop Soweto

Street-side Barber Shop

Small Shop in Soweto

Convenience Store in Soweto

Kids Play in Soweto

Kids Playing Outside

Street Art Soweto

Elephant Street Art

Street Vendor Soweto

“Simba The Lion” and His Awesome Hair

Have you ever been surprised with local hospitality when traveling? Do you have questions? Drop me a message in the comments below!

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Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip. Pick up a travel backpack, camera gear, and other useful travel accessories.

Book Your Flight

Find cheap flights on Skyscanner. This is my favorite search engine to find deals on airlines. Also make sure to read how I find the cheapest flights.

Rent A Car

Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local & international rental companies.

Book Accommodation is my favorite hotel search engine. Or rent apartments from locals on Airbnb. Read more about how I book cheap hotels online.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance.

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Strolling Through Soweto Township! More at
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Strolling Through Soweto Township! More at


I hope you enjoyed my guide to Soweto Township! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

Disclaimer: My trip was made possible in partnership with iAmbassador and South Africa Tourism.


Monday 2nd of October 2017

Dear Matthew, My name is Inge, I live in Holland and in my last year of secundary school. For half a year I am studying the township Soweto. It is my intention to learn more about what life is like in a township like this and I am looking for a traveler to share his/her experience during his/her to Soweto. Could you maybe help me? I would be most obliged.

Kind regards,

Inge Jansen

Penny Sadler

Saturday 19th of July 2014


David Ouellette

Friday 18th of July 2014

Really good stuff Matt, it's not always easy to get those natural images of locals!

Matthew Karsten

Saturday 19th of July 2014

Thanks David. Glad you enjoyed them.


Friday 18th of July 2014

I always love your images. In this set the one I like best the the street-side barber for two reasons. First is that the clippers are powered by a car battery, the second is what the hell is Samuel L Jackson doing cutting hair! ;)

Also of note is that everyone's clothing is very clean.

Matthew Karsten

Saturday 19th of July 2014

Right? I loved the car battery too. Who needs an actual shop?

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