Did you know?
As a young man, Nelson Mandela rented a tiny room from the Xhoma family in Alexandra.
Proclaimed a 'native township' in 1912, Alexandra township escaped the territorial apartheid of the Natives Land Act of 1913 and remained one of the few areas where black people could own land under freehold title in urban areas.
In 1948 Alexandra fell under the direct control of the former Department of Native Affairs, and despite its value as a labour pool to the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, approximately 50 000 residents were forcibly removed to Thembisa and Soweto.
During this time, its residents were actively involved in the liberation struggle. The 1942 and 1957 bus boycotts and the 1956 march against the extension of the pass laws to women are notable events in the township's resistance history.
In the early 1960s, a decision was made to demolish all the properties in Alex. Family accommodation was to be eliminated and 25 hostels, each housing about 2 500 people were to be built, but the global political backlash that followed the 1976 Soweto uprisings forced the government to reconsider this approach and Alexandra was given full status as a residential area in 1979. The infamous hostels can be seen on a tour of Alexandra township today.
A number of notable South Africans emerged from this township to make a significant impact on South Africa, including music legend Hugh Masekela and football mogul Dr. Irvin 'Iron Duke' Khoza, South Africa’s 2010 World Cup Local Organising Committee Chairman.
Besides a wealth of struggle history sites, an Alexandra township tour reveals revitalisation is happening at every level – from a new Pan African shopping centre, to extensive greening and clean-up projects and a proposed FIFA Football of Hope multi-purpose sporting facility.
Busy outdoor markets, traditional healers, the St. Hubert Catholic Church and the Mandela Yard Precinct create a mix of old and new that makes Alex such a fascinating place to visit.
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Who to contact
Vakasha Guided Tours
Tel: +27 (0)11 882 1148