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*All distances listed are as the crow flies, and not actual travel distances.
Named after a renowned poet but more famously remembered as the street where two Nobel Peace Prize winners resided, Vilakazi Street in Soweto is a scheduled stop on the Johannesburg hop-on hop-off tour buses.
Poet and novelist Benedict Wallet Vilakazi was the first Black South African to receive a Ph.D. degree (literature) and the street is named in his honour, however, his legacy has been somewhat upstaged by the fact that Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, both Nobel laureates, once lived on this street. Nelson Mandela spent a large part of his first marriage at number 8115 Vilakazi Street and later with 2nd wife Winnie before being incarcerated. Following his release, he returned to the house for a brief period. Desmond Tutu, affectionately known as The Arch, lived a few houses down and like Mandela, was a tireless campaigner against racial discrimination.
Vilakazi Street has been converted into a public walkway filled with artistic creations that relate mostly to the grim apartheid era, some sombre to remember past tragedies and others inspiring, to give hope for the future.
The street has three restaurants to try out; Nambitha prepares hearty buffet meals and the chance to sample local favourites such as samp and boerewors, while Sakhumzi offers typical western dishes which can be complemented with a side order of spicy chakalaka and pap. Restaurant Vilakazi serves up traditional meals such as mogodu, a tripe and vegetable stew served over pap. Ask your waitron for details. Gumboot dancers and other street performers entertain patrons while they dine.
While in Soweto, stop in at a Shebeen to experience a traditional beer-in-a-box drink at a venue that once operated illegally.
Soweto TV, a local community television service, is broadcast from a primary school in Vilakazi Street.
Expect to find plenty of things to do when visiting this vibrant street that could be a considered both a place of remembrance and a celebration of the arts.