Sophiatown is an historic suburb in Johannesburg, established and populated by families of all races and backgrounds since 1900. It became a community around 1912, and by 1950 was a celebrated freehold, non-racial area, and a hive of intellectual, artistic, religious and political activity. Today that spirit has been revived by the multi-cultural community making this area their home. We have three national heritage sites in the suburb and a rich programme of cultural activities from live jazz, literary events, heritage tours, art exhibitions and much more.
Situated next to Westdene and close to Melville, UJ, Auckland Park, we are ideally placed for visitors wishing to walk in a real neighbourhood with local cafes and shops providing an authentic South African experience.
What is happening in Sophiatown this August
FRIDAY 28 August 2015 at 20h00
Ziza Muftic, renowned vocalist and composer resents material From her Album Silver Moonbeams
R100.00 advanced booking and R110.00 at the door
Booking is essential as the venue has limited seating
Call Rinkie for bookings and more information 083 550 7130
The BBC have highlighted this important history with a feature article in their magazine: click here to read more.
The town destroyed to stop black and white people mixing
Sophiatown, in the suburbs of Johannesburg, was once known for its bohemian lifestyle and vibrant music scene. But 60 years ago, the South African government decided to clear the multi-racial neighbourhood to turn it into a whites-only area. more>>
Sophiatown removals relived
RASHID Subjee remembers being a child among 300 Indian families that were dumped at the then disused Lenasia army barracks after being forcibly removed from Sophiatown in 1957.
“We lived in huts, tents, shacks . but still strove to live our lives to the fullest amid all the sadness of being dropped in the middle of nowhere.” Subjee said.
He was speaking yesterday at a house which was once the home of Dr AB Xuma, a prominent Sophiatown resident and ANC president, at an event to commemorate the forced removals of 65000 people, which started on February 9 1955.
The Nationalist Party government renamed the area Triomf, Afrikaans for triumph.
Also, those without permission to live in Johannesburg were sent to the apartheid government-created Bantustans in rural areas.
Maria Marite and Peter and Esther Maboe said they all fondly remember playing house and emulating adults with foodstuffs stolen from a local store.
“I also remember being whipped by Odin Cinema usher Peggy “Bel-Air” Senne before he became a top shebeen owner in Soweto, even when I had not made a noise,” said Marite. more>>
South African Jazz Legacy Sophiatown Heritage
Sophiatown heritage center is given a major boost by the opening of their custom built music hall. It was christened with the assistance of the UK season in SA and a powerful and uplifting presentation by Adam Glasser, a musician with a history in our music, and a heart for its preservation and restoration.
Adam the son of Stanley Glasser the music director on King Kong, set out to compile an exhaustive list of South African “Jazz” music. more>>
Classics by Can Themba and Barney Simonback in the limelight
We were delighted to host the cast of ‘Crepescule’ recently, in the heritage house in the ‘real’ Sophiatown and Kofifi of old – at Sophiatown-the Mix. They visited the historic suburb for a reading while they prepared for the opening of the production, written by Khayelihle Dominique Gumede, at the Laager Theatre at the Market Theatre Complex.
Thanks from the Sophiatown team, both for the complimentary tickets, and more importantly for breathing new life into the writing of Can Themba for a new generation. Viva the spirit of Sophiatown and the younger generation bring new life to the area at Sophiatown- t’ Mix!
Read more about the production here
Walking Tours of Sophiatown can be booked Monday-Saturday on 011 673 1271 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org A tour leaves the Heritage Centre at 11h00 every Saturday, price R120 inclusive. Read more here
Our monthly JAZZ ENCOUNTERS are not to be missed – only R120 in advance or R130 on the door for live and close up interaction with the music – just like the old days. Find us on the last Friday in the month: details here, or on our Facebook page.
This review from 2Summers, an online blog and magazine reflects what you can expect at this special venue www.2Summers.net
“…Not only did I attend a proper jazz performance on Saturday evening, but that performance took place in Sophiatown (pronounced “soh-FYE-ah-town”), the birth place of Jozi jazz. I can’t believe it took me so long to do this, as I’ve known for quite some time that there is a jazz concert on the last Saturday of every month at the Sophiatown Heritage Centre. And I’m fascinated by the history of Sophiatown,which is literally around the corner from Melville…”
Please note Jazz Encounters is on Fridays now, not Saturdays.
Sophiatown Past and Present
You can come along to any of our listed events and tell us how you are connected to this iconic area, which includes historic links to Fietas, Westbury, Coronationville, Martindale, Newlands and Newclare as well as Soweto, Lenasia and Fordsburg. Historic Sophiatown features in countless books, poems, films, theatre and music. Today we invite everyone to be part of making history, right now here in Sof’town.
Sophiatown’s Centenary Year (2012-13). To mark the end of the centenary celebrations, Kofifi Theatre Company, with support from the National Arts Council and others, were proud to present a production of ‘Sophiatown’, the 1986 play by the Junction Avenue Theatre Company. The production had critically acclaimed runs at both the new Soweto Theatre and the Joburg Theatre, during April 2013. This clip is from the Soweto Theatre run April 2013.
Produced by the Trevor Huddleston Centre, with guest director Alexander Gifford from the UK, this production commemorated important milestones from South Africa’s history:
(i) The Centenary of the Native Land Act 1913 that began the process of white people appropriating land from non-whites people which led to forced removals across the country, starting in Sophiatown in 1955 (under the Native Resettlement Act).
(ii) 2013-2014 is the Centenary Year of Fr Huddleston’s birth. An exhibition of photographs, curated with ACTSA, was held in London and Sophiatown and a selection of these are on display at the Heritage and Cultural Centre in Sophiatown: see www.trevorhuddleston.org