Get going in the most happening kasi

SOWETO, ekasi: sprawling township, cultural melting pot, rich in history, symbol of change.

Residents live and breathe ekasi . Those who leave for the northern suburbs get the itch and return home for weekends to have their cars washed, play soccer, eat traditional food at restaurants, drink and just be seen at ispoto or just hang in the hood. For those who choose to stay Soweto is home. It has changed considerably in the past decade and will continue to do so for many years to come.

EATPanyaza's Chisa Nyama

The perfect chill-out spot on a hot Sunday afternoon, this is Soweto's most popular chisa nyama (literally translated as "cook the meat"). There's nothing to it except a butchery, braai place and a few tables. This is how it works: pick your meat at the butchery, then have it braaied for you by the staff and when it's ready take it back with a side-helping of pap and atchaar to the spot where you've parked your car. Everyone in the lot will have their car boots open, with the latest local hits blaring forth as people dance and feast. You can't help but join in .

Vundla St, opposite the Rock nightclub, Rockville. 083-731-9929

Primi Balaza

Primi Piatti's winning formula has been imported into Soweto, where returning residents can enjoy a piece of big city in the comfort of their own neighbourhood. It's a favourite with the young and trendy who like to be seen in all the right places.

Shop 145, Maponya Mall, Old Potchefstroom Rd, Klipspruit Extension. 011 938 1491

Sochila Dining and Lounge

Sochila (which in township lingo means to really chill out) invites guests to do exactly that. Sundowners are a long, lazy affair on the outside porch overlooking the passing traffic and the new breed of 40-something black bikers doing drive-bys, while the elegant interior offers a chic setting for dinner. The extensive menu includes dishes from traditional wors and pap to prawns and rice.

437 Phase 2 Diepkloof Extension, Diepkloof. 083 411 3037, 082 772 2156


Maponya Mall

Soweto's first upmarket shopping centre is the dream come true of Soweto businessman Richard Maponya, who had been trying to build the mall there for more than 20 years. Easily accessible from the main arterial road, Old Potch, the centre boasts familiar clothing and décor outlets, as well as upmarket labels such as Fabiani and guess, with a touch of local flavour. If you're looking for something traditional yet modern, try the Basotho shop Mebala.

Old Potchefstroom Rd. 011 938 4448;


Holiday Inn Soweto

Soweto's first four-star hotel is the perfect synergy between township life and upmarket living. Guests can observe the hustle and bustle of the Kliptown Plaza from their air-conditioned rooms adorned with contemporary art and photographs of famous Soweto residents such as Nelson Mandela. Something to look forward to on Sunday afternoons is jazz in the restaurant Jazzmaniacs or in the courtyard, weather permitting.

Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication, Kliptown. 011-527-7300

You haven't been in Soweto until you .

l Visit Mandela's home. Built in 1945, it has recently been restored by the Soweto Heritage Trust and has re-opened as a museum with a visitor centre and multi-media displays. 8115 Vilakazi Street, Orlando West. 011-936-7754;

l Go on a eco-friendly bike tour of the township organised through Soweto Backpackers. 011-936-3444.