I am Cedric de la Harpe, The owner of Taste of Africa, this year we are celebrating our sixteenth year of hosting visitors in Soweto and Alexandra, (click on links for more information) firstly you are welcome to make contact with me directly through text on WhatsApp, my mobile number is +27 82 565 2520.
We are the only tour operators who refuse to do the ‘Zoo-Like Tour’, we walk the streets and visit with the community. When you are walking the streets with us, you are seen, and accepted, as a sister, a brother, a mother, a father, or if you have your children with you, they become one of the Village Community children and visits to a school can be arranged.
Photographs are welcomed, they will encourage you to take pictures, ‘shoot me, shoot me’, they will call out.
We do not encourage hand-outs, it makes it difficult for others who would follow;
We do not include the Apartheid Museum, however we will drop you at the Apartheid Museum by 15:00 if you wish, the self-drive transfer option is beneficial;
All tours are ‘Private’, and the visitor should discuss their interests with the guide.
My preferred morning is a walk through four very different areas, moving through Orlando East, the oldest Township in Soweto, Nomzamo Village, an informal shack dwelling, turned into a semi-formal development, Hlomisa Informal shack dwelling, and the Nancefield Zulu Hostel.
The Nancefield Butchery is my favourite lunch venue, cheap, you can eat for R 50 per person, but the experience is the “closest you will get to Africa in Africa”
Following lunch , for those who have time and energy, we could walk to the traditional Tourist Route on Vilikazi Street, alternatively for R 15 per person, a shared local taxi trip to the Tourist Route, will be an added experience.
SOWETO RATES: TRANSFER AND GUIDING, ENQUIRE FOR ALEX OPTIONS
EXCLUDING LUNCH, LOCAL TRANSPORT, AND MUSEUMS:
R 720 per person, ex Melville base. (single supplement of R250)
We encourage our visitors, who have their own transport, to use the self-drive option,
Where Cedric is available, he will join you in your vehicle on the trip to Soweto, or provide “Meeting Point” details, and route details, here the guide will meet us where you will safely park your car, and proceed with the regular visit.
Soweto Walking Tour Self Transfer Option;
Self drive option, R 520 per person, (single supplement of R 200).
One of our Standard Meeting Points is the BP Service Station, Taste of Africa’s meeting point, by arrangement only.
Should the visitor reside in Melville, or other areas accessible to the Rea Vaya bus route, Taste of Africa will assist with directions.
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SOWETO TOUR by Taste of Africa, The No Zoo-Like Tour, or rather a guided visit.
Soweto Tour by Taste of Africa, we offer a no zoo-like tour, we would rather have our guide disappoint you, through what you may believe is their lack of knowledge, regarding what you may have read on the internet, than restrict his, or her, expression, of how they see South Africa and our history, while allowing others in the community to interact with you.
This blog is aimed at giving the visitor an opportunity to understand the areas that we will cover during the visit, allowing less wasted time, by needing to listen to the information while experiencing the magic.
Following our successful introduction to the Soweto Walking Tour, from today, we only offer the one option, but rest assured, for those who still require the local taxi transport to assist, your guide will be very aware of your needs, and ensure you are comfortable.
Your most important part of the visit is the introduction.
In African Culture introductions include where you are from, who your parents are, your children and all other relevant aspects.
Often the lengthy introduction builds the relationship through common interests or family structures.
Most important NOTICE:
Soweto generally has pretty good facilities, however, they will be shared by you and the family.
In the Villages the accommodation is more traditional.
You room may be in the house, or one of the outside rooms. The toilet / bathroom facility may be inside or outside.
Talk to the hosts about how you access them.
The rooms all have double beds, and the hostess is paid R 200 for the room for the night. If you do not wish to share the double bed, we will provide the room as a single, at an additional R 100.
Washing / bathing in Soweto takes place may in the traditional bath, or, in other areas by using the plastic bath / dish.
See where the water comes from and whether you can assist in collecting the water.
We make every effort to accommodate you on a rotational basis, however, if you wish to ensure that you do get one of the more comfortable homes, please let us know, at and additional R 100 per person, which will go into a community kitty for all the mothers, we will allow you the choice for a ‘better’ room.
Where we are hosting groups, the group leader must distribute the group according to their understanding of the group, any special requirements, let us know in advance. Should you be in the position to provide us with the names of those who wish to share, 2 pax and 4 pax, we will allocate hostess in advance, reducing your settling time drastically.
24 hours in Soweto, MEALS:
Our arrangement is that the host cooks their normal planned meal and just adds to the pot to cater for you.
If you have any diet restrictions please tell the hostess.
The family often does not have the same daily clock that you have, so if hungry at night, do not be afraid to talk, and please make sure they know what time you want your breakfast, coffee or bath.
For groups we will arrange a meal at a local shebeen, or one of the mothers who can cater, with music and magic.
In order to give the visitor the magic vibe, the night includes the provision for the hostesses to join you for the meal.
Any refreshments that the hostesses may have access to, is not included.
Beer is freely available at community ‘shebeens’, and should the group wish Taste of Africa to source wine for the group, please order in advance.
Alexandra Tour, the microcosm of South Africa, a must visit.
A look at Alexandra Township Tour
Alexandra Tour Rates:
Departing Melville with Taste of Africa, half-day visit, R 650 per person sharing.
Departing Sandton Central Business District using local shared taxi from Sandton, hosted by our guide:
4 hour visit, R 400 per person sharing, excluding the local transport, payable by the visitor.
SUNRISE WALK & other tours:
Alexandra Township Tour – ‘SUNRISE WALK’ R 650 pp (min 2pax)
When we experienced the walk through Alexandra from 05:30 to 08:30, (winter 06:30 to 09:30), we experienced the Alex that we found the most attractive. Could it just be that it is cool, even the winter months can be hot during the day, or just that the magic of Alex waking up and rising around you is magic, you decide.
In the interests of Radical Economic Transformation in the tourism industry, these tours are intended to cater for the Sandton visitor, where our guides can host your access, through the local taxi transport in and out of Alexandra Township.
Any Half-Day Trip ex-Melville will only take place for the 05:30, 08:30 and 13:30 time slot.
Alexandra Township Tour
If departing Sandton, our guide will meet you at your hotel, if central in Sandton, or, at the Gautrain Station at 05:30, hosting you while using the local taxi from Sandton, our preferred option.
Should you wish to self-drive into Alex, we will provide directions to our guide controller on 2nd Avenue Alexandra, where you can safely park your vehicle.
Your guide will walk the area indicated in the map below compliments of Google.
From 1st Avenue, the taxi link and business area, we move through the small market places, moving through the Zulu enclave, and high density shack accommodation, where one of our guides lived, chased out by his neighbours in March 1991.
Taste of Africa visits the Madala Men’s Hostel, the heart of the 1991 conflict in Alexandra, considered a no-go area by most people.
From the male hostel and Zulu enclave, we walk via the upmarket Phase 2 with manicured gardens, an Island in the middle of the Chaos, pass the Female Hostel, walk through the high-density squatter community, the ‘Favela’ on 6th,
We pass the Room where Nelson Mandela stayed in the 1940s on 7th Avenue, then depending on time, a look at a few of the lower Avenues, before we head back to the business district and board that taxi back to Sandton:
Should the visitor wish to get deeper down into Alexandra, a trip in one of the small ‘cockroach’ taxi, will allow us to move deeper into Alexandra, and experience the cockroach.
No where in South Africa will you experience the diversity that you will experience in the 1 square kilometre of the old DARK CITY, that is Alexandra Township:
Join us for an experience you will never forget.
If we wish to extend the morning visit, and stay for lunch, once again, Cedric’s favourite lunch venue is the Alexandra Men’s Hostel, please discuss this option with Cedric.
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY:
Alexandra, originally established as a white Township in the 1890’s then, when unable to sell land, the developer converted the Township to a black Township in 1912, sold all the land as the 1913 Land Act approached.
During the 1950s Alexandra was famous for the 2 American type gangs that controlled the area.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Alexandra, like Sophiatown, Kliptown and other areas in South Africa, was ripped apart by the expropriation of all residential land, and the forceful removal of residents to Diepkloof in Soweto, and other areas.
It was the Apartheid Government’s intention to use the land for Hostel Type dwellings, to provide accommodation for the labour force, and by 1963 the male and female hostels were built.
In contrast to the forced removals in Sophiatown, because Alex was due to remain a black area, the Council started to collect rentals on all accommodation that was not vacated.
This resulted in difficulty to remove the land-owners who preferred to stay, and great conflict existed through till the 1970s when Rev Buti was able to change the Council’s minds and the development of Alex was again started.
During the early 1980s, through some link by a financial institutions, contractors, and Councillors, property was re-sold to those who could afford bond homes. You paid a deposit, and an appointed contractor built the homes through a link to the building society.
Then, in 1984 conflict in the Townships, the 1986 the rent and services boycott, aimed at all the accommodation owned by the Council impacted on those Land-owners who maintained the control over their properties. To-date, no rent is being paid, and conflict exists in many ‘land-owner groups’ who claim ownership, in the face of Government Ownership.
This was followed by the removal of the restrictions on ‘influx-control’ and Alex was one of the first areas where informal shack accommodation swelled, resulting in the over-populated conditions we find today, high-density accommodation that the sewerage system can’t handle.
During 1990, when black on black violence, allegedly driven by outside forces, spread throughout the country, Alex, the ‘Dark City’ maintained relative peace. Then in March 1991 the IFP / ANC violence erupted in the area around the Mens Hostel.
Many died, and all non-Zulus were chased out of the area, many of them leaving all their belongings and fleeing.
This section today is still occupied by the Zulu contingent that occupied this enclave.
This is a brief introduction to the dynamics that we need to be aware of, and dynamics that should attract South African’s to visit the microcosm of South Africa’s scattered problems.
Cedric de la Harpe;
The You Tube in this post gives you a look at Nettie and Cedric de la Harpe’s background to Responsible Travel, and how it has impacted on our Alexandra Township initiative:
While you are looking at Alexandra, maybe Soweto is your other option?
Hi, I am Cedric de la Harpe. and I invite you to visit Soweto with Cedric de la Harpe, where, our history and heritage is important, the people are important, but not the museums.
I was recently asked by a journalist, when responding to the advice that I would no longer take my International visitors to the museums;
“But what will the visitors see if you don’t take them to the museums?”
Having enjoyed the magic of our people for years, I did not answer his question, my answer would have disturbed him, join me in Soweto, is you wish my answer that I did not provide.
“I was born in South Africa, 1947, I never know whether to describe myself as the product of Apartheid, or, whether Apartheid is the product of me.”
“I can never remember being anti-apartheid, I just accepted that one day it would end.”
“My wife Nettie and I, first visited Soweto in July 2004, we loved the magic on the streets, we were surprised by the love and respect given to us.”
“By 2008, I believed we were no longer racist, then, in 2013, I discovered that I still was racist.”
“in my opinion, ‘once a racist, always a racist’, like an alcoholic, you can only get into a state of recovery, your mind never heals.”
“I have escaped the need to worship Nelson Mandela as the icon that saved us, that brought freedom to the black people.”
“I do accept that he contributed to the freedom to us whites”.
“Our white freedom, thanks to the Congress of the People, was symbolically cast into stone in Kliptown, June 1955.”
“Should you wish to visit the Nelson Mandela and Hector Petersen Museum, please specify and book through the Soweto Tour.
Following this introduction, the visitors will ask challenging questions;
'How did you discover that you are racist, yet, you appear not to be racist?''Why were you never anti-apartheid?'
My answers will vary, depending on the general conversation that is taking place around the introduction.
Your are invited to join the discussion.
For years I have wasted the visitors available time, making sure that I covered ‘heritage sites’, and the history that the site heritage is based on.
The Visitors all have one great desire, to listen to a
local Sowetan, on how the transition into their 'freedom'
has changed their lives.
“Most people have read the ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, as I weigh up community memories that conflict with the Nelson Mandela’s version of their heritage, it has become like a treasure hunt, many people will contest my findings, and this makes our interaction even more interesting.”
Today, our very confused heritage information, can be read free on the pdf, linked in the Passport to Soweto.
Having booked a ‘Visit Soweto with Cedric de la Harpe’, you will receive a ‘stamped’ free copy of the book, and be in the position to ask the questions, and give direction with regard to what you wish to visit.
Should you wish to use the Rea Vaya bus system, as described in the Passport to Soweto, or self-transfer to the meeting point, Cedric will meet you at the bus station, at the cost of R 400 pp sharing, excluding internal transfers.
In the company of Cedric, using his vehicle in lieu of local taxi fee, the cost (departing Melville) per person sharing is R 750, this includes lunch at the Nancefield Hostel, but excludes any Museum visit:
Cedric will cover the following visit structure;
1: Orlando East; the oldest official Township in Soweto; 1932 to 1935;
Should the visitor wish to interact with any of the Heritage Value sites, participating in the Passport to Soweto economic development initiative, please advise Cedric in advance, and the cost per site, per person is R 30.
The visitor will receive a more meaningful interaction with the Heritage Value participant family, if you are aware of their background, and have questions that you wish answered.
2: Kliptown, our focus is the Mandela Square informal sector, the Mandela Hideout in the Lollan Home, and TamatieVlei, a community on the river, we will briefly look at the Freedom Charter Memorial, only to challenge the ‘conspiracy theory’ regarding the ‘other’ version.
And then lunch and an early sundowner at the Nancefield Hostel, the closest that you would get to Africa, while in South Africa;
The Apartheid Museum is not provided for in this visit to Soweto with Cedric, who does not support the concept that the Apartheid Museum symbolises the death of Apartheid, as Apartheid is still live and well.
Cedric and Nettie de la Harpe
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