Hotel plans art exhibitions


Wassup chairperson Lucky Manyisi inspects a toilet
A street scene in Kliptown
KLIPTOWN is the oldest township in Soweto, and it overflows with a wealth of history that remains to be explored.

The Soweto Hotel on Freedom Square, in Kliptown, aims to uncover this rich heritage through art competitions and exhibitions that tell the South African story and celebrate the continent of Africa.

First up is an art exhibition that celebrates Africa. In partnership with a Soweto association for artists called Soweto Post 77 Media and Funda Arts Centre, the exhibition, Celebrating African Art – Expression Without Borders, will run from 23 May to 30 June.

Current and past students from Funda Arts Centre will be exhibiting. It will be followed by a second exhibition, this time depicting five decades of South African history. The display will consist of a collage of photographs and paintings, as well as audio.

Lindiwe Sangweni-Siddo, the hotel manager, says using the hotel’s resources to showcase and make known the history of Kliptown is important. “I have always thought that the arts just don’t get the platform it should and there are young people who have the desire to study art or somehow enter the world, but lack the platform.

“We are determined to create that platform in one of the poorest communities in Soweto, igniting the precinct as an arts tourism destination and providing opportunities and even income to local artists.”

From 24 to 26 May, the hotel will be transformed into a mini Africa, celebrating all things African, from music, painting and sculpture, to dance, poetry and storytelling. It incorporates Africa Day, which is marked around the continent on 25 May each year. High schools and cultural groups are invited to these festivities.


Wassup chairperson Lucky Manyisi inspects a toilet
Klipwtown, the oldest township in Soweto
“It is occasions like these that allow us to know and understand our history,” says Sangweni-Siddo. “We have to reflect where we come from as South Africans and what we have achieved since 1994. There is still a lot to be done to ensure that we appreciate our arts and culture here on home ground before exporting it to other countries.”

On National Women’s Day, 9 August, the hotel will launch the Artists Impact Competition, which will encourage Soweto artists to tell the story of the township. The hotel’s events co-ordinator, Masentle Mokhele, says that Soweto artists who are interested in entering the contest should send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In the email, they must include a profile of themselves and a picture of the art work they wish to enter into the competition. All the works in the competition will be displayed at the hotel until 16 December, when a winner will be announced. Mokhele said they had not yet decided on prizes.

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 signed on 26 June 1955. The area it was signed is today 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 sign 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.

It is also the site of the Soweto Hotel on Freedom Square. The hotel is the first four-star hotel in Soweto. It was opened in 2007 as the Holiday Inn Soweto – Freedom Square but the name was changed to Soweto Hotel on Freedom Square in 2009.

For more information about the hotel and its activities, call 011 527 7300 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit its website.