It’s Heritage Month and the City is intensifying efforts to preserve its heritage sites.
Joburg is rich with historic buildings and artefacts, which tell the story of various aspects of its evolution from a mining settlement over a century ago to Africa’s commercial capital today.
The city’s history comes alive in the buildings and monuments that tell stories of important moments in its formation, making it a unique city, with all its historical scars. This Heritage Month, the city will, through its entity, the Johannesburg Property Company, step up efforts to restore, preserve and maintain its historical monuments for future generations. The Department of Arts and Culture will also host special events to commemorate historic moments in the making of Joburg.
Current city efforts to preserve Joburg heritage
The Jabulani Amphitheatre located near the Soweto Theatre is currently being restored. It is part of a 36 hectare development under the management of the Joburg Property Company (JPC).
Built in 1952, the Jabulani Amphitheatre was for many years used as a venue for historical gatherings and other cultural festivals. The new Amphitheatre will consist of an auditorium which will seat up to 3 000 people with rehearsal studios, new performance stages, an outdoor gym and braai areas.
The venue is set to host the Soweto Heritage Month celebrations as part of the month-long Art Alive International Festival on the 23 and 24 September 2017.
Juliwe – Roodepoort West
The city will on 25 September unveil a plaque to recognise people forced to leave behind the graves of their loved ones when they were forcefully removed from Juliwe location in Roodepoort West to Dobsonville in the late 1950s. Eric Itzkin, Deputy Director of Immovable Heritage in the city says the plaque will be unveiled at the old cemetery near the Horizon View Shopping Centre.
The JPC has recently awarded the Parkmore Community Association (PCA) a lease to preserve and use the Driefontein Farmhouse, which was built by German immigrant Adolf Wilhemi in 1906 after the Anglo-Boer War. The association aims to preserve the history of the farm and teach children in the area about the history of the early Parkmore residents.
Situated at the corner of Coleraine Road and Fifteenth Avenue, River Club, the property is a farm homestead and said to be one of the remaining examples of architecture from the 20th century and consists of five rooms measuring approximately 1280m².
“We hope to make it a sanctuary and get the community involved to preserve this part of the history of Johannesburg and Sandton,” says JPC MD Helen Botes.
Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre (JHGC)
The JPC partnered with the JHGC to build a centre of memory, education and lessons for humanity on genocide.
Located in Forest Town on Jan Smuts Avenue, the JHGC was built to commemorate the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Genocide for their courage and determination in resisting the dehumanising and oppressive systems. This building commemorates the suffering of the people of Rwanda, the Jewish community and any other communities who suffered similar atrocities.
The centre currently has temporary exhibitions on Concentration camps in Austria and on the Rwandan genocide. The building will house a permanent exhibition that is still under construction and will be opened in 2018.
Etzkin says the city plans to upgrade the Mendi Monument in Avalon Cemetery to coincide with the centenary of the Mendi.