Sof'town Urban Experience

  73 Toby St, Sophiatown      +27 11 673 1271     20 Aug 2018
created 25 May 2017
On a cold winter's morning in 1955 some 2000 police officers arrived in the colourful, multi-racial suburb of Sophiatown and began forcibly removing people from their homes, throwing their belongings onto trucks and bulldozing every building that lay in their path including public buildings such as cinemas and shops. The intention was to crush the spirit of swinging Sophiatown, an area that was famous for its lively jazz scene and racially mixed community. Residents were forcibly moved into distant racially segregated townships in Soweto and Lenasia and a new 'whites-only' Afrikaner suburb called Triomf (Triumph) was built on the rubble of old Sophiatown.

Sophiatown The Mix, a community centre and museum that is working to keep the memory and spirit of old Sophiatown alive, leads the Sof’town Urban Experience, a regular walking tour of the neighbourhood. The Sof’town Urban Experience brings the old spirit of Sophiatown back to life, taking in the area's rich heritage and tracing a path between the few buildings which survived the forced removals.

The tour starts at the Sophiatown The Mix centre. Here you can visit a modern taken on an old Sophiatown shebeen, walk through the former home of the first president of the African National Congress (ANC) Dr Alfred Bitini Xuma, who led the party from 1940 to 1949 and view photographs showing the street life of old Sophiatown. Learn about the beginnings of the ANC and the budding careers of political icons such as Nelson Mandela and Oliver Reginald Tambo, enjoy gorgeous views of Joburg from the rooftop Viewing Deck on the new Sophiatown The Mix building and watch an informative film about old Sophiatown where jazz greats like Thandi Klassen share their memories of the other side of 'Sof'town' culture such as the gangs with names like The Americans and The Vultures that ruled the streets.

The Sof'town Urban Experience is led by the dapper Victor Mokhine, who personally experienced the Sophiatown Forced Removals and Tsepho Letsoalo whose parents were born in old Sophiatown. Mokhine is a fountain of information about Sophiatown's history and peppers the tour with fascinating personal anecdotes, all the while tapping his foot in his debonair Oxfords which he bought in 1964 (they made shoes properly back then).

The walk through the neighbourhood retraces the old streets and memories of the days before the 1955 forced removals and ties in the culture of present day Sophiatown with its 1930s roots. The tour also offers the chance to visit the homes of former residents who returned to the area following the end of apartheid and who will share with you their personal stories of that fateful winter morning in 1955.

Tours cost R180 per person. When you book use our discount code JIYP SOPHIATOWN to get 10% off the tour!

Call +27 83 550 7130 or +27 11 673 1271 or email
to arrange a tour.
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Tours start at Sophiatown The Mix and booking is essential. Tours can be booked Mon-Fri 09:00-16:30, and last approximately two to three hours.

Price/Additional Info

Tours cost R180 per person. Call +27 83 550 7130 or +27 11 673 1271 or email to arrange a tour. When you book use our discount code JIYP SOPHIATOWN to get 10% off the tour.


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