Kliptown in Soweto, Johannesburg is one of the oldest, but also the poorest communities in Soweto. In 1955, the famous Freedom Charter gathering was held here. The Freedom Charter gathering brought together people from all races and creeds, in order to establish a charter according to the rights and needs of the people. This charter formed the structure for the Post- Apartheid constitution.
For this reason in 2005, the South African government celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the Freedom Charter by building a very large monument complex. The development cost 11 million euro to build, and was initially intended to consist of many community inspired nodes to incorporate interesting spots in the area, as well as to attract tourists.
Unfortunately the full extent of the plans were never realized, and today the centre comprises of a large brick tower with the Freedom charter etched into stone on a round tablet, 5-star hotel, a large convention hall, complete with kitchens and catering facilities, as well as a shops for rent. The space has not become the central node as was hoped and today the tourists who dare to visit the area, and usually arrive in bus tour groups, still find themselves isolated in the Soweto hotel, away from local residents. Kliptown, once known as a buzzing market area for local people, has now been re-located to the outer parts of the monument square.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
|Artists impressions of Walter Sisulu Square before 2005|
The Walter Sisulu Square is essentially a branded space and ode to the act of voting, and performing Post- Apartheid democracy. However, through research in the area, it became apparent that the square had the opposite effect to attracting local people, especially in the community living close to the square. Residents had the feeling that they were not welcome, and that this "public space" was intended exclusively for tourists. Due to the overwhelming lack of tourists at the square, the complex became a barron and desolated area- very different to the intentions of the original development plans.