Viewing our history from a bicycle
'Being a tourist in my own neighbourhood'
A NATION's pride is its heritage and touring around Orlando West, in Soweto, I realised the people are its true definition.
Courtesy of Lebo's Soweto Backpackers, I hopped on to a bicycle to view and soak up the culture of one of the country's biggest black residential townships, with a colourful history to match.
The strangest thing was being a tourist in my own neighbourhood with a couple from the Netherlands.
The intimate and eventful four-hour tour began with the challenge of riding and balancing myself on the two-wheeler.
Our first stop was the former Mzimhlophe men's hostel just across the road from my home.
I felt as if it was a village I had never seen before because I had never dared go there in my early youth - mainly out of fear for myths about it and respect for its residents.
When we got there we shared and enjoyed umqombothi (traditional beer) and mageu, a maize energy beverage, with a group of elders to whet our appetites.
We sang shosholoza, a folk song originating in the mines and watched Zulu men doing their rhythmic traditional dances, before bravely digging into cow head meat (iskop in local parlance) and phuthu, a fluffy Zulu version of maize porridge, or pap.
We were then adorned with Zulu accessories to complete the account. The children we passed in our traditional Zulu regalia were our biggest fans.
Our second stop was at legendary musician Abigail Khubeka's lavish house, and then we went on to the Hector Pieterson Museum in Orlando West. When we got there we found a group of pupils who had gathered to learn about the uprising in 1976.
For lunch we indulged in bunny chows known here as iKota.
Riding down the colourful Vilakazi Street, the last part of the tour, the weight of the food in my stomach was no match for the pride I felt in my neighbourhood's heritage.
The street was full of people who wanted to learn more about our history.