Are you as surprised as I was that there are houses like this in Soweto? My whole life I have only heard one story out of Soweto: people were poor and living in shanty houses. Well, yes, that does exist but why don’t we ever get to hear about the beautiful homes that are in Soweto? Why don’t we hear about the thousands of Black South Africans that live in neighborhoods that have gates, fancy cars, paved roads and tree lined streets? Why do we only get told that only bad things exist in Soweto, that only poverty and despair is the only option for Black South Africans from Soweto?
Below are two pics I took of this lovely lady that let us into her home. Yes, it was in the shanty town part of Soweto but as you look at the pictures, do you see filth? Do you see dirt? Her house was so clean it was incredible. Simple? Yes. Poor? Yes. But dirty? Not at all. She was lovely and kind and her home in its modestly was lovely.
I’m here to tell you and show you with these few pictures that there is much more to Soweto that what you have been shown and told. Did you know there is a huge hospital in Soweto? There is a very large shopping mall as well?
While I was in this neighborhood I would have taken more pictures but I was so flabbergasted by what I was seeing I could barely take it all in. I had absolutely no idea that this type of luxury was even possible for Black people in South Africa and I was angry. It really pissed me off that I had been told only one part of what was in Soweto, that my news media felt it was ethical to only give me the “poor poor Africans” headline my whole life. And it also saddened me that only a handful of Americans would be able to see this beautiful neighborhood firsthand.
As we were driving down the streets of this neighborhood it was like I was seeing color for the first time. My eyes could barely understand what was in front of them. How could people in Soweto live in nicer houses than some of my friends and family? What I was seeing was in complete contrast to the half-truths I had been told my whole life.
This is what travel does for me, it opens my eyes to things that I never thought possible. It helps me to see things for how they are, not for what someone has deemed relevant for me to be told. If you don’t travel, you are really letting someone else’s perception of what is true shape your mindset. I refuse to let anyone else tell me what is possible. Traveling has expanded my mind so much that sometimes the only time I feel completely comfortable is when I’m talking to fellow travelers because they get what I mean when I say that travel has changed me. It has made me whole.
This trip to South Africa was one of those life changing trips that I think has shaped me for the better. It may not be South Africa that changes you, we are all affected in different ways by different things but whatever city or country does it for you, I hope you give it a try. You won’t be sorry.
Happy weekend and I’ll be back on Monday.