A luta continua in Soweto

Several tours a day take curious tourists to Soweto, allowing them a peek into the history and present of the famous former township.

Only a few houses apart in the Soweto tourist epicenter are the homes of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, two Nobel laureates. The former township, today part of larger Johannesburg area, officially counts around 1,2 mil people according to the 2011 census, more than some of the EU countries.

It’s electrical plant towers produce no electricity today, as they were converted into an imaginative cultural and recreational facility. Today, one who seeks a modern kind of excitement can indulge in paintball, bungee-jumping, and similar activities.

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The towers were considered a symbol of neglect for the communities of South Western Townships (SoWeTo), as the electricity produced in Soweto was not made available to its citizens.

Current South African economy, alleged mismanagement of the electrical company, and the continued inequalities which strongly affect the people of Soweto contributed towards the current context where Soweto again experiences electricity failures, and consequently the occasional protests by the citizens.

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Looking at the situation in Soweto one may observe a pattern that may become more common and a true contemporary challenge for Europe and the world. It may also be aggravated by any more pronounced climate change, inequalities, and cultural tensions.

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While the difficult history and heritage of Soweto now (marginally) contribute towards its slow economic and social recovery (counting 25 years), the situation also teaches a lesson written many years ago in the motto “A luta continua”.

Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, photo by Saša Tkalec (c) 2018.

There is still much work in Soweto to ensure dignity and equal opportunity for everybody in that community, as well as around the world. Resolution of some of the challenges depends solely on the local people, yet many responsibilities may lie with the larger society and global contexts.

In any case, it seems that the future work on improving the condition of humankind and preserving the environment, will likely continuously be challenged by intrinsic societal frictions and challenges, with an understanding of solutions possibly somewhere in the cultural-security complex.

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