A garden may be found in the middle of Soweto, at the intersection of Majoeng and Ntsane Streets. Because the garden’s many trees are so close together, it actually resembles a forest, and for this reason, it definitely qualifies as a bird sanctuary. On one of their properties, Oppenheimer already has a beautiful garden in the more wealthy districts of Johannesburg called Brenthurst Gardens. However, the Oppenheimer Gardens in Soweto have a slightly different focus. This area, which includes the Oppenheimer Tower and the Credo Mutwa Cultural Village, is effectively a city park.
Aloes, cabbage trees, wild olives, coral trees, plumbago, honeysuckle, and canary creeper are just a few of the numerous flora and trees that can be found in the gardens, which are mostly made of rocky terrain. The more indigenous of these are used by a number of sangomas, or local medicine men, to gather bark and plants, which they then combine for medicinal uses.
The Tower, which is practically in the midst of the gardens, was constructed in 1957 in honour of Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, a mining tycoon who also made a sizeable financial contribution to help with Soweto’s housing shortage at the time. It was constructed using bricks from demolished homes owned by residents who were compelled to relocate to Moroka from newly defined “white regions,” including the 49 stairs that scale its height.
Scale the tower for breathtaking panoramas of Soweto, including views of the memorial acre, the Fresh Fruit Market, and the Jabulani Hostels—all well-known monuments. The Oppenheimer Gardens have seen confrontations between township inhabitants and hostel occupants, as well as serving as a haven for students who hid under the trees.
The Credo Mutwa Cultural Village, also known as Khayalendaba, or “place of stories,” is located next to the Tower. Given its namesake’s background as a poet, artist, cultural historian, award-winning nature conservationist, and shaman healer, Khayalendaba is not surprising. It is full of amazing structures and sculptures that represent African art, culture, and folklore.