Soweto is a city of resilience populated by people with a pervading entrepreneurial spirit.
This is the general impression of a group of overseas tourists who were in Johannesburg to attend the World Congress on Healthy Ageing at the Sandton Convention. The conference, the first of its kind on the African continent, ended on Sunday August 2.
The delegates – who included professors, researchers and doctors – were ferried to the world’s most famous township in a luxury coach from the Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein.
Their excursion covered tourist attractions such as Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere; and the majestic FNB Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The trip ended at the Mandela Museum in the famous Vilakazi Street in Orlando West and the nearby Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum. “This is a vibrant place with lots of movement,” said Dr Dennis Bjorkman, a delegate from Hawaii.
He said he was highly impressed by what he saw, especially the “self-reliant nature of the people who are doing things for themselves”. “Never did I see anyone begging at a street intersection. The people here seem to have sufficient pride in themselves, which is good for their own and their community’s health.”
He added that he would seriously consider coming back to Soweto to learn and share ideas about the importance of healthy eating habits, especially among senior citizens. Among the delegates were Professor Vyatialingsm, Professor Surresh Rattan, Prof E Heung Bong, Dr Lim Poh and Prof Phillip George.
At the end of the tour the delegates all agreed that the trip was an eye-opener, adding that they were impressed by the vibrancy of the township. They felt the people of Soweto generally looked happy and content, despite “the obvious challenges” they were facin