Vilakazi Street is perhaps the most famous street in Soweto, or in all of Johannesburg, South Africa. The street claims a rather unique distinction, being the only street in the world to have once had as residents two Nobel Prize winners. Those two men are His Excellency Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu.
It is also where where 13-year-old Hector Pieterson was shot dead, sparking the beginning of riots, on June 16, 1976. A memorial is nearby in Soweto and that day is now National Youth Day.
At the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane streets, is Mandela House which is a great testament to Mr. Mandela as well as to the greater fight against apartheid and for equal rights not only in South Africa but around the world. However, it is Soweto itself which is most important on this street. Vilakazi may be well known around the world but the neighborhood is still a simple one where people live and work every day.
Perhaps what makes Vilakazi Street so great is just that simplicity, proof that out of the most ordinary of places can come greatness. All that is needed is for people to decide to stand up and fight.
Because Soweto is a home to so many people, approach visiting with respect, particularly on Vilakazi Street. Please hire a local guide and take care while exploring the area.