“Soweto – the passion… the pain…” – 1999 / 2000






A 56 min documentary on Soweto past & present. “Soweto – the passion… the pain…” is a bitter-sweet journey through Soweto’s turbulent history and cultural evolution.

Intimately related by a handful of the many giants of character that have emerged from this township, it is a tribute to the passion and resilience of Soweto’s sons and daughters – who, when forcibly relocated to what was then Orlando & Meadowlands – brought with them the vibrancy & tradition of places like Sophiatown.

This passion gave birth to a distinctive and memorable subculture of creative expression through music, literature and the arts that has become the trade-mark of Soweto.

Soweto’s pain is a long relationship with violence – originating long before the landmark student uprisings of 1976 – the seeds of urban black oppression planted in Orlando East in 1931 – when the first wave of black families forcibly relocated from white Johannesburg – arrived to faceless rows of identical two-roomed houses.

“The passion… the pain…” reflects the manner in which the ruling regime – after the shockwave of 1976 – determined to exploit tensions within the community; tensions between ‘personal aspiration’ for a better life on the one hand and the ‘sacrifice demanded by political struggle’ on the other.

Encouraging the growth of a manageable-sized black middle-class in Soweto, it was a divide & rule strategy.

A mirror to what was happening in most black townships across the country in the 1980’s – the streets of Soweto erupted in all-out war – as the youth – sacrificing education for liberation – took on the security forces – to make the townships ungovernable and apartheid unworkable.

For the everyday township dweller – it became increasingly difficult to remain uninvolved. Everyday issues became politicized – you were either for or against . Confined to the townships – black anger – turned inwards. Sell-outs were necklaced.

In the process, a generation of Soweto children – constant witness to violence & death – were brutalized.

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