"he was gone to Orlando, and lives there amongst the squatters in Shanty Town"

Orlando power station's cooling tower
Public DomainOrlando power station's cooling tower - Credit: Chris
In 1930, the Johannesburg City Council developed a new township, called Orlando.  The new development was marketed as a posh new suburb for black South Africans.  It comprised identical, tiny, two bedroom houses, built close alongside one another, with no indoor plumbing or electricity.  Each tiny house accommodated on average 6 people.

By the mid-1940s, the waiting list for houses in Orlando numbered 16 000 people.  New arrivals to the city lived as sub-tenants in houses and backyard shacks.

In March 1944 Community leader James ‘Sofasonke’ Mpanza led a group of squatters who built basic shelters made of bits of scrap metal and canvas, on municipal land in what is now Orlando West.  Within a month the settlement had a population of 20 000.  The municipality responded by putting up 4 000 breeze-block shelters, communal water taps and pit latrines.  Residents dubbed the area Shantytown. 

Today, Orlando is a suburb of Soweto.