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.

 Marcus Wyatt playing Jazz

Walking Tour

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.

Next up in the Jazz Encounter’s series – two special evenings in August 2014

Friday 15 August at 20h00 – Tutu Puoane  and Marcus Wyatt

Friday 27 August at 20h00 – Mlungisi Gegana

visit our event page

Earlier in 2014

February 2014   (1955 remembered)

Professor Wally SeroteProfessor Mongane Wally Serote opened the 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 SHCC for their work in enabling us to remember and reflect on what was lost.  Guests reconnected Commemoration Event with neighbours and friends from Sophiatown days, sharing with 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.  Thanks to the City of Joburg Community Development Department team for sponsorship of the transport for residents.

Walking Tours of Sophiatown can be booked Monday-Saturday on 011 63 1271 or by email info@sophiatown.net   A tour leaves the Heritage Centre at 11h00 every Saturday, price R120 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) 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

NEW ENTERPRISE AND CULTURAL CENTRE FOR SOPHIATOWN – MOTSWAKO PROJECT:  to find out more go to our partner’s page:  www.trevorhuddleston.org 

Motswako (the ‘mix’) Hub will link youth in the historic western area neighbourhoods – all of which suffered from forced removals in the mid 1950s – to entrepreneurship opportunities including training and enterprise incubation.