Soweto, the story of South Africa’s transformation

A former center of resistance to apartheid that struggled with poverty, Soweto, South Africa's largest township, has become a dynamic, sprawling community -- a symbol of the country's own transformation.

Soweto is South Africa's largest township and it was founded about 100 years to make housing available for black people south west of downtown Johannesburg. Children play in a newly constructed apartment complex in Jabulani, Soweto, South Africa, May 2013. Black South Africans are not used to living in apartments. Many have problems practicing their traditions, such as slaughtering animals, which is not allowed in the complex.

An overview of Diepkloof section in Soweto, January 2013. The estimated population of Soweto is between 2-3 million. Many key events during the apartheid struggle unfolded here, and the most known is the student uprisings in June 1976, where thousands of students took to the streets to protest after being forced to study the Afrikaans language at school.

Visitors attending an arts and craft festival at the new Soweto Theatre in Jabulani, Soweto South Africa, May 2013. Soweto today is a mix of old housing and newly constructed townhouses. A new hungry black middle-class is growing steadily. Many residents work in Johannesburg, but the last years many shopping malls have been built, and people are starting to spend their money in Soweto.

An unidentified man sells sweets on the street in the early morning in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, February 2013. He works outside Baragwanath hospital, which is close to the main transport hub in the township.

Designer Sibu FDB, age 29, with a model and one of his dresses during a shoot in a poor area in Kliptown, Soweto, South Africa, May 2013.

Twin brothers perform a dance during a late night session at a jazz club in Diepkloof Hall in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, February 2013. The club has monthly sessions where people come to enjoy classic jazz music, eat and have a few drinks. People are encouraged to perform dance numbers to their favorite tunes.

Members of a string orchestra rehearse in a community hall in Pimville Community center in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, October 2006. About 50 boys and girls play string instruments a few times a week and they sometimes perform in the township.

Per-anders Pettersson

Designers Lethabo Tsatsinyane and Sibu FDB, both 29, stand next to a Nelson Mandela mural outside Regina Mundi Catholic church in Soweto, South Africa, May 2012.

Girls play on a trampoline on a street corner in Soweto, South Africa, January 2012.

Per-anders Pettersson