Welcome to the site which seeks to revive the spirit of historic Sophiatown for our contemporary times. Whether you are new to Sophiatown, or a former resident, a visitor to South Africa, or a longstanding resident of the suburb, we provide a website and a physical space in Sophiatown where everyone is welcome to share their story, connect to one another, enjoy our suburb, and understand what happened here, so we can build the future together.
The team at the Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre (SHCC) look forward to hearing from you and meeting with you at one of our events.
8-9 February 2014 (1955 remembered)
Professor Mongane Wally Serote opened the new photographic exhibition by Struan Robertson at the Heritage Centre on Saturday, marking 59 years since the Sophiatown removals began. He warmly recalled his childhood years spent in the suburb, and commended the curator, Dudu Madonsela, and the Heritage Team at the Centre for their work in enabling us to remember and reflect on what was lost. In that context Professor Serote reminded the crowd of people at the event how much was also to be gained by using our vote in the upcoming elections.
We were glad to have the Rt Rev Steve Moreo with us – his first visit to the Heritage Centre since becoming the Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg, now that his office is in the suburb. The Bishop set the scene with prayers from all the main traditions in South Africa – Muslim, Christian and Jewish, ending with a Hindi blessing.
Guests viewed the Struan Robertson exhibition and the permanent collection, and then chatted over lunch,re-connecting with neighbours and friends from Sophiatown days, and telling the younger guests some of the stories and shenanigans from those times.
On Sunday, the actual anniversary of the removals, a dozen people walked the Sophiatown streets, hearing about the life and times before the removals. We were honoured to be joined by two former residents who shared their memories with the group.
The Exhibition ‘ Ruins of Sophiatown’ runs until April 10th (free); museum entrance is separate – R35 per person (children under 16 -R20)
Walking Tours of Sophiatown can be booked Monday-Saturday on 011 63 1271 or by email email@example.com A tour leaves the Heritage Centre at 11h00 every Saturday, price R150 inclusive.
Our monthly JAZZ ENCOUNTERS are not to be missed – only R100 in advance or R110 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.
(please note Jazz Encounters is on Fridays now, not Saturdays). Photo: Young Lions play Sof’town
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…”
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.
TH with Nelson Mandela in 1990, after his release from 27 years of
jail and Huddleston’s 30 year campaign for non-racial democracy.
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) the centenary of Father Huddleston’s birth, June 15 1913 — Huddleston was a life-long activist against racism and apartheid, who spent 12 formative years in Sophiatown between 1943-1955; he founded the Boycott Movement in 1956 which became the Anti-Apartheid Movement, UK. His seminal book ‘Naught for your comfort’ told the story of Sophiatown and the removals to Meadowlands, Soweto.
Despite its past, Sophiatown today is again one of the most diverse suburbs in South Africa. Kofifi Theatre Company is based in Sophiatown. For bookings and information on their work, especially for schools, speak to Rinkie: 011 673 1271.