Share this article

A photographic exhibition will retell the history of Kliptown, the oldest residential area in Soweto and site of the ratifying of the Freedom Charter in 1955.
THE story of Kliptown, past and present, will be told in a photographic exhibition for all to see on Sunday.


Architectural Landmarks: The Ruins of the San Souci Theatre (Photo: OomArchitectural Landmarks: The Ruins of the San Souci Theatre (Photo: Oom Bolo)Ikasi lamakasi: A Photographic History of Kliptown will run from 26 June to 25 July at Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication. It will focus on the Kliptown of the past and of today.

Important events in the area will be included, such as the meeting of parliament at the square in 2008. Images of influential figures in politics, sport and society will be displayed next to pictures of the ordinary people of Kliptown.

“This exhibition is a contribution to showcasing some of the history of Kliptown in addition to the permanent exhibition, The People Shall Govern, at the Kliptown Open Air Museum,” explained the spokesperson for the exhibition, Bandile Gumbi. “Kliptown has a long history of mobilisation to better conditions in the community as well [to] national liberation. This is to add to the popular story about the area to show a community that was and still is vibrant.”

The photographs on exhibition will be by Oom Bolo of Bolo Studios, the remaining member of the Kliptown Snappers, which has a huge collection of photos of the area. In addition, the Kliptown Our Heritage Trust will showcase work by the Soweto Kliptown Youth, known as the Sky Foundation.

The foundation was started by Bob Nameng in 1987. Just 16 years old at that time, Nameng saw the need for such a centre in his community. Initially named Kliptown Child and Youth Club, Sky is one of the oldest surviving youth centres in Soweto, according to the foundation’s website.


A Special seating of Parliament in Kliptown in 2005 (Photo: Oom Bolo)A Special seating of Parliament in Kliptown in 2005 (Photo: Oom Bolo)It initially operated from a two-roomed house where Nameng would conduct after-school choir sessions for local children. In time the club grew and the children spent much time drawing, reading and learning. Today, the foundation also runs a feeding scheme where poor children are fed before and after school each day.

“A child cannot learn on an empty stomach, and often there is no food to eat when they get home. The centre’s aim is to teach children about nutrition, and to contribute to their mental and physical development,” reads the website. “Another important reason for this project is to provide nutrition to those infected with HIV.”

Kliptown is the oldest residential area of Soweto. It was formed in 1891 on land which formed part of Klipspruit Farm. The farm was named after the nearby Klipspruit, or rocky stream. It was a squatter camp by 1903, but today is made up of RDP and subsidised housing.

It was here that the Freedom Charter was ratified on 26 June 1955, at the opens space now known as Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication. On that day in 1955, over 3 000 representatives of resistance organisations from around the country gathered to ratify the charter, an alternative vision to the repressive policies of the apartheid state.

Today, the Freedom Charter is the basis of South Africa’s internationally renowned Constitution. And the square is one of Soweto’s major tourist attractions.

Related stories:

Hotel plans art exhibitions
Soweto artist incubator opens
Prepare for Mandela Day
City celebrates June 16
Exhibition marks MK anniversary
Child labour on show