Having recently just celebrated South Africa’s National Heritage Day, Joburg Tourism recognises some the city’s most prided heritage sites and places of interest showcasing South Africa’s vast cultural diversity and history. While the list is far too long to detail all of our favourite historical sites, to follow, see a few places of interest, cultural diversity and history that may not yet have featured on your itinerary list of things to do in Joburg.
Credo Mutwa Cultural Village
With its home in the heart of Soweto, the Credo Mutwa Cultural Village is an outdoor museum and art exhibit featuring the iconic works of artist and traditional healer Credo Mutwa. Made up of his private collection of creations dating back to the period of 1974 to 1986 this significant place of heritage and history offers visitors an authentic African art experience reflecting true to life traditional African culture, folklore and what some consider predictions of times to come.
The Oppenheimer Tower
Towering above the Credo Mutwa artworks, a historical site embedded amidst indigenous plants many of which boast medicinal and African healing properties, the Oppenheimer Tower overlooks the surrounding parks and was erected using repurposed bricks of the houses demolished during forced relocations in the Apartheid era. Named after the De Beers mining mogul Ernest Oppenheimer, the tower stands steadfast and tall in honour of the significant role that Oppenheimer played in relocating displaced South Africans of colour amidst the country’s most abysmal duress.
The Kliptown Open Air Museum
Illuminating the drafting of the South African Freedom Charter, the Kliptown Open Air Museum honours the late Walter Sisulu centred in Freedom Square Soweto. Included in the exhibit are artefacts of people of influence that witnessed the signing of the freedom charter, lyrics to songs sung and testimonies of those present. Welcoming citizens of every colour and creed from all four corners of the country, Kliptown was the location of choice during the signing of the charter, characterised as a multi-racial freehold between Soweto and Johannesburg. Today a moving monument echoing times of change, the Kliptown Open Air Museum is a not to be missed local Joburg experience.
The Workers’ Museum
Forming part of the Newtown Heritage Trail, the Newtown Compound is one of the last surviving municipal compounds called home to migrant workers who worked for the City’s Sanitary Department and the nearby power station during the South African apartheid era. Leaving women and children behind in faraway rural surrounds, the male workers resided under extreme conditions subject to slave-like treatment in the racially discriminate compounds. Today the site stands as an agonizing reminder of the unjust and inhumane migrant labour system.
Sophiatown – The Mix
Comprising of a church, an orphanage and the old age home of Dr Alfred Bitini (AB) Xuma, Sophiatown – The Mix is today a community centre and museum made up of the few remaining buildings following the forcible removal of residents of colour, all of their worldly possessions and the bulldozing of their homes. Paying homage to the old Sophiatown and its 1955 residents, organisers host guided walks through the neighbourhood as well as monthly Sophiatown Jazz Encounter concerts celebrating some of the towns’ original residents including Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela.
With a number of other things to do in Joburg, places of great history and local significance don’t miss the opportunity to visit more well-known locations of heritage in the City of Joburg, including:
- The Hector Pieterson Museum
- Mandela House Museum
- The Apartheid Museum
- Museum Africa
- Liliesleaf Farm
- Vilakazi Street
- Constitution Hill
- Regina Mundi
- Maboneng, Arts on Main and 1 Fox Precinct
- The Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre
- Soweto, Tembisa, Fordsburg and Alexandra Townships