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The making of Soweto
1886: Gold is discovered in the reef, triggering a mass migration to the goldfields
1890s: Rise of racially mixed, but squalid, inner city slums housing migrants to the city. The slums include "Kaffir" Location and Coolie Location, and Brickfields in Newtown.
1903: Kliptown is established as a first black settlement on the outskirts of Johannesburg. It is a neighbourhood of huts and corrugated tin shacks built close to a sewerage farm. 
1904: Outbreak of bubonic plague in the slums gives authorities an excuse to burn the "Coolie Location" (today's Newtown) to the ground. Blacks are relocated to Kliptown, some 25 kilometres south of the city, and the first suburb of Soweto.
1918: A flu epidemic kills many blacks on the reef.
1923: Native Urban Areas Act promulgated as a measure to control blacks in urban and rural areas. The Act also gives municipalities a monopoly to brew and sell African beer.
1924 and 1927: Eastern Native Township established in Denver.The latter was demolished in the 1930s.
1930s: Country goes through a major depression. Black workers are the hardest hit.
1932: The first clinic is opened in Orlando in Soweto.
1934: A part of Kliptown is renamed Pimville after Howard Pim, an English immigrant involved in municipal affairs and  contributing towards charitable causes.
1935: Orlando Township is set up, named after councillor of Native Affairs Edwin Orlando Leake. Conditions in the settlement are unsanitary and overcrowded.
1937: Joburg municipality starts brewing traditional beer, beer halls are established. Africans are banned from brewing their own concoctions, giving the municipality a monopoly in the trade.
1939: Outbreak of WW2 leads to a new wave of migration to the cities, including a large number of women. The war triggers a growth of factories and industries, which in turn increases the demand for black labour. The black population on the reef is estimated at about 400 000.
1941: The Imperial Military Hospital, later to become the Baragwanath Hospital, is built for the treatment of British troops, many of whom had contracted tuberculosis.
1944: James Mpanza galvanises a group of homeless people in a campaign to occupy vacant land by establishing the Sofasonke party as an alternative local government, collecting taxes and allocating vacant land for occupation by the homeless.
1944: An emergency camp is built by the council next to Orlando to accommodate a growing number of homeless people. The camp is called Shantytown.
1945: Mpanza's Masakeng squatter camp is cleared by the authorities.
1946: Moroka Emergency Camp and Central Western Jabavu (an emergency camp) are set up by the authorities to accommodate the growing army of the homeless.
1947: Basotho migrants organise themselves into a formidable social network called the Russians. Dressed in blankets and admired for their distinctive music and dance, the group is nevertheless feared for unleashing unprovoked violence on residents. These fierce fighters constantly engage in skirmishes with Zulu migrants.
1947: A clinic is established in Moroka.
1948: The Transvaal Provincial Administration purchases Baragwanath Hospital. The black section of the Johannesburg Hospital is transferred to Baragwanath. With 480 beds, the hospital services black patients from across the province. With time, it becomes the biggest hospital on the continent.
1948: Influx control tightened in the wake of the National Party coming into power.
1950s: The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the National Building Research Institute come up with a standard design for low-cost four-roomed houses. The four-roomed houses are later to dominate the Soweto landscape.
1953: The Mentz Committee rules that freehold townships be cleared of black occupants and residents be relocated to new townships mushrooming far from the city centre. Residents from Sophiatown, the Western Native Township, Newclare and Martindale are relocated to various parts of Soweto.
1954: Dube is established as an exclusive township to accommodate the middle class. Wealthy residents build their own houses. With time, the township becomes one of the more glamorous areas of Soweto.
1954: 10 000 serviced sites are provided as the townships of Tladi, Zondi, Dhlamini, Chiawelo and Senaoane are laid out. Sir Ernest Oppenheimer loans the city R6-million for the provision of housing. Within five years, some 24 000 units are built.
1955: The Freedom Charter is adopted by a coalition of anti-apartheid organisations in Kliptown. The Congress of the People adopts the Freedom Charter as the guiding document of organisations led by the African National Congress (ANC).
1955: Dube hostel is constructed to accommodate migrant workers, mostly flat cleaners evicted from their employers' premises in the inner city in terms of the newly promulgated Natives (Urban Areas) Amendment Act No12. The process of building hostels to accommodate male migrant workers was to accelerate over the next decade.
1956: Houses are built in the newly established townships of Meadowlands and Diepkloof to accommodate those displaced by forced removals.
​​1956: Sir Oppenheimer visits Moroka and loans the state R6-million to provide more houses in the area. This gesture triggers a housing boom. New townships are developed, zoned along ethnic lines. Naledi, Mapetla, Tladi, Moletsane and Phiri are reserved for Sotho and Tswana-speakers while Dhlamini, Senaoane, Zola, Zondi, Jabulani, Emdeni and White city are set aside for the Zulu and Xhosa speakers. Tsonga and Venda-speaking people are settled in Chiawelo.
1957: Violence flares up in Dube as the Russians and the Zulus fight it out. The battle results in some 50 fatalities.
1960: The government bans the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP). Banned organisations establish armed wings to pursue guerrilla warfare.
1962: Local authorities are allowed to sell "European" liquor to black customers for the first time.
1963: The name Soweto is officially adopted by the council following a four-year competition.
1968: The rise of the South African Students Organisation (SASO), an organisation of students advocating the Black Consciousness philosophy. The organisation is heavily influenced by the American Black Power movement.
1970: The Bantu Homelands Citizen Act is promulgated. The Act compels blacks to take up citizenship of homelands, making their stay in the urban areas even more onerous and insecure.
1976: In June students from Soweto schools embark on an uprising in protest against a government decree that Afrikaans be used a medium of instruction. In August, the Soweto Students Representative Committee is formed, bringing together representatives from schools across the township.
1976: The Committee of Ten formed as a voice representing the older generation through the uprising.
1978: The Azanian Students Movement (Azasm), a Black Consciousness-aligned student organisation, is formed.
1979: The Committee of Ten is renamed the Soweto Civic Association (SCA).
1979: The Congress of South African Students (Cosas) is established, signalling the resurgence of ANC-aligned resistance movements.
1982: The Soweto Youth Congress (Soyco) is set up to accommodate youths who are not at school.​
1983: The tricameral parliament is formed, with Indians and Coloureds being represented in their own respective "houses".
1983: United Democratic Front (UDF) is formed, mainly to oppose the tricameral parliament. The UDF spearheads many defiance campaigns, triggering heightened resistance to apartheid rule.
1983: Soweto is granted municipal status following municipal elections boycotted by most residents.
1980s: Rise of middle-class neighbourhoods called extensions. These relatively affluent townships are developed to accommodate the emerging black middle class - mostly civil servants. The most prominent of these is Diepkloof Extension. Other extensions developed include Dobsonville Extension and Selection Park
1984: Political uprising in the Vaal townships spreads to Soweto. Councillors are attacked for colluding with the apartheid government.
1985: A State of Emergency is declared nationwide, signalling increased repression. Cosas is banned as police occupy schools. Many activists are detained. At the Kabwe Conference, in Zambia, the ANC declares a people's war and vows to render the country ungovernable. School boycotts spread, resulting in some schools being shut down. Residents go on consumer boycotts and street committees are established to defend communities at local level.
1986: Declaration of the second State of Emergency. Vigilantes, mainly Inkatha Freedom Party members, from local hostels, attack communities. Communities embark on rent boycotts, which last until 1990. The government's attempts to evict defaulters make little impact
​1986: The pass laws are abolished, leading to a new wave of migration to the city. The state undertakes further reforms as it repeals legislation governing petty apartheid.
1987: The South African Youth Congress (Sayco) is launched as an ANC-aligned body to galvanise the youth, to baptise "the young lions", into resistance.
1987: Outbreak of "The White City War" - a major uprising that results in councillors, who were targeted for their cooperation with the authorities, being forced to flee the townships and taking refuge in the suburbs.
1988: The boycotts are intensified and last for four years.
1989: Launch of the defiance campaign spearheaded by the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM), a coalition of anti-apartheid formations
1990: The ANC, PAC, SACP and South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) are unbanned, triggering euphoric celebrations throughout the townships. Political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, are released from jail.
1990: Hostel inmates launch a major offensive against township residents.
1990: The Soweto Civic Association signs the Soweto Accord with the Transvaal Provincial Authority and Eskom, the national electricity supplier, writing off all rental arrears and introducing a discounted system of electricity payment.
1995: Following the first post-apartheid municipal elections, Soweto is included as part of the new Southern Metropolitan Transitional Local Council (SMTLC).
2000: Following municipal elections, Soweto is officially incorporated into the City of Johannesburg.
Sources: Soweto: A History by Philip Bonner and Lauren Segal; Bo-Tsotsi by Clive Glaser
The making of Soweto