Long ago (1988) I moved to Berkeley and started sending a monthly "newsletter" to my Boston friends. When I returned to Boston (1993), I continued the tradition for about five more years (or until I had kids). Looking back, I realize that I was actually blogging. Each newsletter contained anywhere from a few to several blog posts. Having been silent for the past decade or so, I've decided to resume these activities. Don't expect anything profound -- I tend to focus on what I find entertaining or amusing and perhaps sometimes informative. We shall see!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Into Africa: Soweto

After a good night's sleep, we hopped on our trusty bus and headed to the township of Soweto, where we would be shown around by Tulani, one of the founders of the Kliptown Youth Program.

Tulani grew up in Kliptown and is one several impressive men we met on this trip who have made it their mission to give back to the community and provide the children of the townships and poor communities opportunities. Thando, one of his co-founders of KYP is another such man as is Tumi, who we'll meet during the Safari portion of this trip.

Soweto is a township of approximately 2.5 million people, almost entirely black (more than 98% according to Wikipedia). While I was prepared for the economic disparity between white and black South Africa, I was not prepared for the disparity within the townships, but Soweto is like any other large city -- it has areas of enormous wealth and then across a major road you'll find areas of extreme poverty, where the fortunate have government constructed small homes and the less fortunate have tiny homes of corrugated metal.

We began our tour at the Chris Hana medical center, the largest hospital in the Southern Hemisphere, providing service to 1.5 million people. As so many people commute to the area, across the street is a large collection of taxi stands, merchants, street vendors, etc. It's most definitely a happening place.

Then we headed to Walter Sisulu Square, in the heart of Kliptown, site of the adoption of the Freedom Charter. The charter, adopted in 1955 at the Congress of Kliptown, laid out ten essential freedoms, each of which is represented in the square by a tall pillar, with a statue on top and the freedom engraved on the side. The charter also served as the foundation for the Constitution of South Africa.

 I really liked the pillar arrangement quite a bit, so I'm going to walk through the ten pillars here. (You can zoom in on the pillars to read the engraving.)

The People Shall Govern All National Groups Shall Have Equal Rights The People Shall Share in the Country's Wealth
The Land Shall be Shared Among Those Who Work It All Shall be Equal before the Law All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights
There Shall be Work and Security The Doors of Learning and of Culture Shall be Opened There Shall be Houses, Security, and Comfort
There Shall be Peace and Friendship

In addition to the pillars, there is a conical structure in the square that is a monument to the freedom charter itself. And then a collection of silhouette people, representing all the people of South Africa.

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