Sophiatown Heritage And Cultural Centre In Johannesburg (TheMix)

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre preserves the story of one of the world’s most inhuman activities. I recommend you visit this place to learn about Sophiatown’s forced removal. The center is also one of the many spots that make Johannesburg a great travel destination.

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

I remember while growing up in Nigeria, we were told about the forceful removal of black South Africans from Sophiatown. Today, it is refreshing to see that the story of this area has been carefully preserved. I will share with you some of these stories.

Sophiatown: Past, Triomf, And Present

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Before the destruction of Sophiatown, the area was very famous for its rich multicultural flavor. In the 1940s and early 1950s, Sophiatown was the melting pot of tribes and races. Several notable artists, politicians, and jazz musicians congregated here to have conversations and to use their talent to condemn the racist government of their time. It was a breeding ground for anti-apartheid activists.

After the destruction of most of the properties in Sophiatown, the area was renamed ‘Triomf’ which means ‘Victory’ or ‘Triumph’.

It literally means “we (the white people) now have victory over this area and we have dominated it for our use”.

Trevor Huddleston and Dr. Alfred Xuma

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Trevor Huddleston’s and Dr. Alfred Xuma’s houses are two out of three houses that survived the demolision of the old Sophiatown. Trevor Huddleston was a local priest in the old Sophiatown. His house was next to Dr. Alfred Bitini Xuma’s house. Dr. Xuma was an exceptional medical practitioner in his time and he was also a former president of the African National Congress (ANC).

We won’t move movement

Trevor Huddleston, Ruth First, Nelson Mandela, and Helen Joseph were some of the anti-apartheid activists who condemned the destruction of Sophiatown. They were part of the ‘We Won’t Move Movement’ when the Sophiatown area was razed to the ground by bulldozers on 9 February 1955. This was done to give way for new housing developments that accommodated only white people.

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Over 2000 fully armed policemen took part in the forceful removals of Black, Coloured, Indian and Chinese people who were living in Sophiatown.

Meadowlands

Black people were relocated to a township in Soweto called Meadowlands. The sad relocation inspired the soulful music of Sibongile Kumalo and others. Thandi Klaassen’s even gave a tribute to Sophiatown in her ‘Together As One’ album.

“Sophiatown was indeed the place they all knew. It was where their dreams came true until the white man came to break it down”.  –
Thandi Klaassen’

Several other artists sang beautiful songs about the pain of the forced removal of Black people from Sophiatown.

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Freedom At Last

Thankfully, apartheid’s head has been crushed and Sophiatown’s heritage of multi-plurality has been restored. The rich flavors of art have also returned and life in its fullness is now free for all!

Google Map of Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

The address of the Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre is 71-73, Toby Street, corner Edward Road, Sophiatown, Johannesburg. For more information, you can call the Centre on 011 673 1271 or visit their website on www.sophiatownthemix.com.

Related article: Westdene Dam in Johannesburg – Travel Review

Akindele Olunloyo

Digital Entrepreneur

My love for travel across South Africa led to the creation of Lagos to Jozi. It is a blog platform with the objective of inspiring my fellow Nigerians to come experience South Africa as a beautiful holiday destination, while also educating by giving practical ideas on how to do it.

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