I was invited to join #TravelMAssive for an Instawalk through Sophiatown. A small town in the city of Joburg that boasts so much history! Culture at its best!
I was in great company by the likes of @MzanziGirl, @theblacktofu, @blackscanswim, @WemvulaAfrica @justinleephotogaphy and @justageekdoing photographer Alessio La Ruffa, just to name a few. The tours starts off at the Sophiatown Heritage Centre where our lovely Tour Guide Mbali, gave us some insight into the history of Sophiatown and the devastation that happened.
Between 1930 -1950 Sophiatown became a symbol of unity and diversity in what was an increasingly racially divided country. It was in this tiny suburb that South Africans of every group co-existed in a peaceful manner. It was particularly known as a centre of arts, literature, music and drama.
During the 1950s the government began a brutal campaign against ‘black spots’, and racially integrated areas, such as Sophiatown, became casualties of the government’s new system of forced removals under the Native Resettlement Act From February 1955 Sophiatown was systematically destroyed – schools and shops, cinemas and swimming pools, houses and churches – everything became dust.
Everyone was displaced and homes were lost. Neighbours and families were moved to different areas according to skin colour. The community protests led by African leaders and Trevor Huddleston (who was the local Anglican priest), extended to Britain, but were in vain. On the first day of removals on 9 February 1955, 2000 policemen ousted 100 families to Meadowlands. In all, 65,000 people of all races were affected. A new white suburb was built over the rubble, named Triomf. After the first democratic elections in 1994, the area was renamed Triomf-Sophiatown, and officially renamed Sophiatown in February 2006 -51 years after the first removals.
The photographs in the museum are chilling and the thought that people were torn from their home is heartbreaking.
From the Museum we walk the streets on Sophiatown to the St. Joseph Diocesan Center. It is a historic site, built as a children’s home in the early 1920s and designed by the architect FLH Fleming. It was one of the very few sites not bulldozed when the apartheid government cleared the vibrant multiracial community of Sophiatown to rebuild it as Triomf. It is steeped in the history of the people and the city of Johannesburg and that of Sophiatown. Its history is linked to that of the Anglican Church and the CR Fathers, especially Trevor Huddleston, and the Sisters of St Margaret. As Bishop Brian noted: the story of St Joseph’s takes us “into the lives of so many people from all walks of life who responded to the challenge of the gospel and the need of the poor and gave generously of their time, talents and possessions to make the world a better, kinder, Christ-centred place”.
We continued our tour to our last stop at main Church in Sophiatown- This church is still the original building in Sophiatown.
Today the Sophiatown the Mix exists to promote the revival of Sophiatown as a place where all are welcome, where learning and nurturing are everyday activities, and where people are inspired to build their dreams in peaceful ways. It is through ways such as these that we believe the true transformation of our society lies.
Sophiatown you have my heart!
For Info or Bookings get it all HERE.