Soweto is a contraction of SOuth-WEst TOwnships.

Townships were originally formed outside Jo'burg to house workers coming into the area to work in the goldmines in the late 19th Century. The south-west ones were specifically created by the National Party in 1948 as part of its apartheid policy.

Soweto brought apartheid to the attention of the world in 1976 when a peaceful protest was met by police gunfire. Over 500 people were killed, many of them schoolchildren. It was this tragedy that ultimately led to the downfall of the National Party and the election of a democratic government.

You'll find photos of the houses further down, but you know me: my real love is photographing people. I always try to wander through the backstreets of each place I visit, and while it's common to be warned about the dangers of doing this, I have rarely encountered anything other than a warm welcome.

Kids who are not used to cameras always love being photographed, especially when shown their photos on the LCD screen afterwards. (If you're wondering about the V-signs, this is V for Victory - the younger kids haven't always sussed which way round the hand is held. :-))

Indeed, the challenge sometimes is to avoid being mobbed!

"Excuse me, chaps, this is my photo, I believe ..."

The housing here is what is known as 'matchbox houses': small, single-storey homes with four rooms.

Some have running water. Others have to fetch water from standpipes in the street, doing their washing on the spot:

Water is carried from these taps in buckets:

In a cynical move to present a somewhat more cheerful impression to tourists, most of whom never leave their buses as they pass through Soweto, the government has built rows of more modern, colourful housing in front of the older homes.

Then there are the squatter camps, or what is euphemistically referred to in South Africa as 'informal housing'.

And what I guess they might call extremely informal housing:

A local market:

The cooling towers were a telling symbol of the old regime: the power station was placed in Soweto, which got the pollution while Jo'burg got the power. The townships only got electricity in the mid-1980s.

Soweto has a good hospital because it was built to treat British soldiers just before WWII. An average of 104 babies a day are born here; 47% of them are HIV-positive.

The school where the Soweto Uprising began:

As with Cambodia, I don't think this will be my last trip here.