A tuktuk tootle around Soweto
ROSE PARK, SA A HEAT haze hovers over Soweto this Saturday and families are clustered under shady trees. Soweto is an abbreviation of South Western Townships, the area established in 1886 to house black labour forces for the goldmines. We have just met Dudu, who was born in Soweto and is a fine example of the well-educated postapartheid generation. She has finished her tertiary education, majoring in tourism, and now manages Soweto Tuk Tuk Tours. She tells us that she relishes the freedom her parents were denied, loves Soweto and wants to show tourists the real township.
Dudu escorts us to a daffodil-yellow tuktuk, decorated with floral art and love slogans; it looks like 1970s flower power on wheels. Lebo is at the wheel and off we go — the high-pitched noise of the engine and unmissable colours attract smiling reactions from passers-by.
We head for the street market, where red-and-white striped awnings shade the stalls; sashaying vendors show off their wares amid rows of chairs and tables.
Bright parasols are the favoured form of sun protection for the ladies. A grandmother, who informs us her name is Miriam, looks fabulous in magenta silk, her frock cinched with a diamond buckle under an ample bosom. She holds her parasol over her teenage granddaughter, Abigail, as we push our tables together for a closer chat. Miriam speaks with pride of Abigail’s progress at Letsibogo high school.
We climb back into our tuktuk and head for the Soweto Theatre Complex, completed last year as part of the city’s redevelopment plans. We marvel at its size, contemporary design and the prime colours, which remind me of a giant Legoland. During the apartheid era, theatre companies were formed by actor-activists who staged powerful works on the horrors of racist rule to inspire and empower their fellow South Africans. The performing arts still inspire audiences, but the rallying is against crime, violence and corruption.
Lebo tootles us off to a pub that has a tree-shrouded terrace. Footy supporters in team scarfs and T-shirts are chilling out after watching a game at FNB Stadium, rebuilt in the symbolic shape of a calabash for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Send your 400-word contribution to our Follow the Reader column: travel@ theaustralian.com.au. Published columnists receive an Everyday Cashmere Universal Rib Scarf ($85). The scarves are 140cm long and 25cm wide and available in a wide range of colours. More: everydaycashmere.com.