Soweto – acronym for South Western Township – is located in South West of Johannesburg, in South Africa. The soccer loving township Soweto prepares for the FIFA 2010 World Cup and the Soccer City stadium has undergone major upgrading for the tournament. The opening, final and many other games will be played at this stadium which has a capacity for 104 000 enthusiastic football fans.
The flow of the football tourists from all over the world sets up great demand – and possibilities – for the South African accommodation services. Visitors that have tickets for the matches in Soweto can choose from many different hotels and hostels in Johannesburg. However, only a few kilometers away from the spectacular Soccer City stadium is situated Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers which offers the responsible travelers much more than just accommodation. Since September 2008 Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers and Bicycle Tours has been certified by Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA).
To add on the spirit of having the FIFA Soccer World Cup on Soweto Backpackers door step, “Lebo’s” will offer its very own community fan-park right outside the Backpackers. The park is a play and sports ground for children in the community and during the World Cup this will be a meeting point for local people and guests to celebrate the big Soccer Party. The park will also offer Soweto’s very first camp-site and the only one of its kind in South Africa. For those not going to the stadiums for the games there will be match viewing facilities and local entertainment such as music, dance, theatre etc. and the recent up-graded Orlando Stadium, training ground during the World Cup.
“Not only will a stay at Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers and the 2010 Camp Site be a unique World Cup experience, it will benefit the community and bring local people and travelers together celebrating the world’s biggest event.”
From the start of Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers, the business has valued the involvement of the community as the business grows. This means that the Backpackers employ local people, make use of local businesses and try their best to create and show the community new opportunities. With the Soweto Backpacker, different activities and tours create means for travelers and local people to meet, interact and understand each other better.
Since some years back Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers are working with a greening project which is to develop a park located right outside the Backpacker and in the middle of the community. Today there is for instance a soccer field where the young people in the community can enjoy a green, clean park. The park also hosts youth events for the community.
The Backpackers is situated in Orlando West, a vibrant, safe and historically rich community. The Backpackers offer many interesting township tours for the visitors and from the Backpackers it is easy to get to know Soweto by walking or cycling the streets. You can take a walk to attractions such as Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial, Nelson Mandela Family Museum and Vilakazi Street. You get also an opportunity to visit the local church and to sing to the gospel tunes. Or to enjoy a delicious braai around the camp fire and dance to the local beats from drums and kwaito music. Here it is also possible to volunteer in a community project and to meet people that work to make development happen.
During your visit, you get a change to understand better the South African history and anti-Apartheid movement. Soweto emerged just after 1900 as a racially segregated area re-locating an emerging black labor force for white companies, especially the gold-mining industries. Johannesburg “Egoli”, the city of gold, attracted South African’s from all corners of the country, the vast majority of Black African people settled in Soweto. Besides accommodating the working class, Soweto was also home to anti-Apartheid political activists such as Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela and Robert Sobukwe.
In the 1970’s Soweto was the home of the Black Consciousness Movement lead by Steve Biko. On 16 June 1976 Soweto was on the world’s headlines when police opened fire on marching students. Soweto started a fire that lit the country alight and led to the downfall of the Apartheid regime. Today Soweto is the beacon for the new South Africa, a symbol of resistance to overcome repression and exploitation. The fore runner to what is happening in Johannesburg and South Africa.
Text: Emily H?ckert
Sources: Soweto Backpackers
Images: Soweto Backpackers, Telegraph.co.uk