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Besides its general legal meaning, the term township or black township is the name used specifically to refer to the urban ghetto reserved for as places of residence for all blacks, in colonial times (1852-1947) as well as the apartheid regime (1948-1994).

In this latter sense it was initially also referred to as a "location" ("lokasie" in Afrikaans).

General definition of the word township

In Afrikaans this is usually translated as woonbuurt.

In South Africa, the terms township and location usually refer to the often underdeveloped racially segregated urban areas that, from the late 19th century until the end of apartheid, were Townships were usually built on the periphery of towns and cities.[1][2] The term township also has a distinct legal meaning in South Africa's system of land title, which carries no racial connotations.

South African definition and use of the term

Townships were usually built on the periphery of towns and cities, often as temporary places with scant infrastructure, and in the 20th century large numbers of people were relocated there from their residences in the newly declared "white areas" of the various towns and cities. A matter of enormous frustration and anger, and reflected in a large number of the literary and theatrical works produced in the second half of the 20th century in particular.

Specific townships




Townships and theatre

Township theatre

The township musical

A term used to refer to a uniquely South African form of musical melodrama which evolved in the various black urban townships of South Africa, also as a particularly powerful form of political and protest theatre.

See further Township musical

Township venues

A reference to venues in urban, (black) townships utilized for theatrical performances. These ranged from formal Community Halls, school and church halls to private homes, shebeens, streets and grave-sides.

After the fall of Apartheid and the new dispensation in 1994, the townships gradually became larger and economically more empowered. Also a number of new venues arose, including the Soweto Theatre in Jabulani (2012),

Theatre in Soweto

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