Where to commemorate Human Rights Day in Johannesburg

19 Mar 2024
A public holiday in honour of human rights, Human Rights Day is marked every year on March 21, commemorating the Sharpeville massacre of 1960 when police opened fire on a crowd of unarmed people protesting against the apartheid state's passbook laws. Sixty-nine South African civilians were killed and scores more were injured.

On this day every year, South Africa remembers the fundamental human rights that scores of people fought and died for, such as the right to freedom of movement and freedom of education, which are now enshrined in the South African Constitution.

This year, Human Rights Day falls on a Thursday and across the city, there are plenty of events taking place in honour of the public holiday. Here are some of the biggest ones.

Constitution Hill Human Rights Festival

Thu, Mar 21 – Sun, Mar 24
It's the sixth edition of the Constitution Hill Human Rights Festival, bringing awareness to issues around human rights with over 60 social justice organisations and movements, more than 50 workshops and seminars, and a children's programme with Play Africa.
Gates open from 10:00; admission is free. 

Where You Are exhibition walkabout

Thu, Mar 21
Showcasing the work of recent Artist Proof Studio graduates, Where You Are at the Women's Jail at Constitution Hill concentrates on narratives of resilience, hope, and shared humanity. On Human Rights Day, the students will lead a walkabout giving in-depth insight into the exhibition. 
The artist walkabout runs from 11:00 – 14:00. Where You Are shows until Thu, Mar 28. 

Free The Children: A Concert for Peace

Thu, Mar 21 
Nirox Foundation's Free the Children: A Concert for Peace at Nirox Sculpture Park is a showcase of creative collaboration with artists from South Africa and Ukraine. Time was spent doing a residency at Kromdraai Creativity Impact Hub, reaching out to local children from disadvantaged communities, and jointly developing a unique and moving concert inspiring a global movement to #FreeTheChildren. You’ll be treated to performances by talented artists such as Langa Mavuso, The Soil, and more.
The concert starts at 10:00; get tickets here.

Sophiatown Mix jazz concert and exhibition

Thu, Mar 21
Take a step back in time to the heart of Sophiatown's vibrant spirit with Sophiatown Mix, an event by the City of Joburg’s Arts Alive festival at the Dr A.B. Xuma House Museum. The event promises to captivate with its soul-stirring jazz melodies and an exhibition through Henry Nxumalo's lens. You will discover the rich, untold stories that are sure to shed light on the history of Sophiatown.
The event starts at 11:00; admission is free but it's best to reserve your place, here.

Chess Kidding's Chess Day

Thu, Mar 21
If you've always wanted to learn chess, now is your chance with Chess Kidding's Chess Day at The View Boutique Hotel in Auckland Park. Whether you're a beginner, a seasoned player, or have never played before, there's something for everyone with an exciting day of chess. Activities include bootcamp for beginners, family yoga, chess sippin' (18+ event), a chess quiz, and chess chilling for an opportunity to learn, play, and connect with fellow chess enthusiasts.
Event starts at 08:00; activity prices vary, see more here.

Thabone and Friends

Thu, Mar 21 
Enjoy original compositions by trombonist Thabo "Thabone" Masilela and friends, as well as some food and drinks at chiesa di PAZZO LUPi in Melville.
Doors open at 18:00 and the show starts at 19:30; tickets sold online here.

Coming Up

We, The People Walk

Sun, Mar 24
End the Constitution Hill Human Rights Festival with the iconic We, The People Walk at Constitution Hill. Explore the city with a 5km walk with family and friends celebrating human rights.
Event starts at 07:00; entrance is free but register for tickets here.

Soweto Storytelling

Thu, Mar 28
Reflect on the historical moment of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre with Tsoana Gogo Nhlapho, a social activist and Director of Arts, Culture, and Heritage of the Sharpeville Foundation, for an evening of storytelling at Lebo's Soweto Backpackers. Before the storytelling session, you can enjoy a sunset ride at 17:00 and a potjiekos dinner at 18:00.
Storytelling starts at 19:00, admission is R50 p.p. and can be bought at the door. The sunset ride is R250 p.p. and the potjiekos dinner is R100 p.p. Tickets can be booked through WhatsApp +27 81 524 2918 or email

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