Date: 2016/10/31 / Author: ReaVaya Admin / Category: Site Seeing - Destintions
Thokoza Park and Regina Mundi
No trip to Soweto is complete without a visit to Regina Mundi – Queen of the World in Latin – Soweto's largest Catholic Church. Not only has the vast church always been a spiritual haven for thousands of Sowetans, it also played a pivotal role in the township's history of resistance against apartheid. When political meetings were banned, people sought the safety of Regina Mundi to form their political strategies. What started out as "church services" often ended up as political rallies.And there is nobody better to give you an entertaining and quirky overview than tour guide Danny Dube himself.
When he opens his mouth one cannot help but get caught up in the stories he relates: about how the police stormed through the church doors, firing live ammunition at fleeing students. Adding to the experience, his voice takes on a curious song of haphazard accentuation – paying no heed to the laws of language, he gives emphasis to words which he feels should be so enhanced for better effect.
He is an entertaining host and although he never loses the restrained seriousness in his voice, his repertoire is delightfully flavoured with little anecdotes – like the visit by Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, which caused a major uproar because they were the only non-Catholics to be given Holy Communion; or how the butt of a police R1 rifle broke off a huge chunk of the solid marble communion table at the back of the church, showing the severity of the force used.
The church also has a photographic gallery upstairs, documenting its history and that of the broader subjects of Soweto and Johannesburg. From 1995 to 1998, the church was also the site of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings presided over by Tutu.
Regina Mundi is just off Elias Motsoaledi Road, on the corner of Mkiza and Kumalo North roads and offers daily tours. No reservation for these tours is necessary.
Once your site visit is completed, take an easy stroll down towards Thokoza Park and Moroka Dam, both upgraded in 2002, to get another glimpse of Sowetans at home, especially over weekends when the park fills up to capacity. Soak up the township vibe as you walk the paved footpaths, delighting in the children hanging like little bats from the colourful play equipment.
Thokoza Park is home to 92 indigenous trees, planted by Johannesburg City Parks to commemorate the 92 years of Nelson Mandela's life. Across the road is the Moroka Dam, where you will be able to see some indigenous water birds.