Soweto Heritage

Hector Pieterson Memorial

If Sam Nzima, then a photographer for The World newspaper in Joburg hadn't been at the scene when Hector Pieterson was shot, his name would’ve been forgotten by history, like the other children who died during the 1976 Soweto uprising. 

©Eric Miller
Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto, showcasing the iconic photograph of Pieterson during the 1976 Soweto uprising.

Well, do you even know who the other youngsters are in Nzima's famous photograph? The girl is Antoinette Sithole, Hector's older sister; she was 17 at the time and still lives in Soweto. The boy carrying him is Mbuyisa Makhubo; the last his mother heard from him was a letter sent from Nigeria in 1978.

Hector Pieterson may have been the first child killed in the 1976 Soweto uprising, but really he's a symbol for every child who died, and the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum in Soweto is dedicated to him and 'all the other young heroes and heroines of our struggle who laid down their lives for freedom, peace and democracy.

Heroes Corner

Heroes' Acre in the Avalon Cemetery in Soweto has been set aside for heroes of the apartheid struggle years. As the years pass it will, sadly, become fuller.

Activists buried in the cemetery include human-rights activist Helen Joseph and Communist Party leader Joe Slovo. If the gravestones continue to be as magnificent as those of Slovo's, which is an upright piece of stone with a hammer and sickle cut out of it, the cemetery will soon be on the international must-do lists.

Soweto Mountain of Hope

Renew your faith in humanity at the Soweto Mountain of Hope or Somoho. The mountain is not a place you go to pray or meditate but to see how a koppie that symbolised the worst kind of city squalor and violence can be transformed into a place of community social and environmental activity.

Nobel Laureates

©Dr Peter Magubane
Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.
Soweto's claim to be the only place ever to have two Nobel peace laureates living within a block of each other sounds great until you consider that while Desmond Tutu did indeed live there for twenty years, Nelson Mandela spent most of the time he 'lived' in Soweto on Robben Island.By David Bristow