Johannesburg is a vibrant and modern city whose roots stem from the discovery of gold. A high voltage metropolis, Johannesburg is a fast-paced, fun, and exciting destination for those in search of a touch of urban personality. Its modern architecture and design conflict beautifully with the sedate yet elegant gardens in the affluent neighborhoods of the city, while peaceful sanctuaries located within upscale neighborhoods are constantly photo-ready and worthy. At night, the city comes alive with music, celebrations, and a zest for life like no other city in Africa. Fabulous restaurants, incredible luxury hotels, and boutique one-of-a-kind lodgings make Johannesburg the perfect destination to begin or end any African adventure.
Within Johannesburg’s Alexandra Township there exists the remnants of apartheid from the 1980s and 1990s. A walk through its streets provides the opportunity to learn firsthand the background and detail of the unrest that swept through the townships not but three decades ago. Learn about the social structure of the “yard system” and their effect on the events leading up to change in 1994. Today, the Presidential Flats, Mrs. Mbeki’s birthplace, and the Zulu men’s Hostel “Khayalethu” speak to the promising job creation programs, societal reconstruction, and economic development currently taking place in Alexandra.
Continuing onward to Soweto (the South Western Township), one will witness a fascinating contrast to Sandton and Rosebank in the north. This sprawling “city within a city” essentially acts as a labor reservoir for the greater metropolitan area of the Witwatersrand. In many ways, the story of Soweto is the story of South Africa, with key national landmarks lining its streets, including Freedom Square, the Hector Peterson Memorial, and Nelson Mandela’s first home in Gauteng. For anyone wanting to truly understand and experience the influence of apartheid in South Africa, a visit to the Apartheid Museum is fundamental and leads each visitor on a dramatic and emotional journey through the story of a state-sanctioned system based on racial discrimination and the struggle of the majority to overthrow this tyranny.