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BBuzzing with excitement and vivid social culture, you’ll find it difficult to not fall in love with Alexandra township life. It couldn’t be more different from its posh neighbour, Sandton, which is a mere five minutes’ drive away. What it lacks in elegance, it makes up for in street cred and character. 

A peek into the history of Alexandra reveals that Alex has been home to many luminaries such as world-renowned jazz legend, Hugh Masekela and former president Nelson Mandela. 

Alexandra was established by Mr. Papenfus who tried to establish a white residential township. In 1912, it was declared a ‘native township’. Escaping the Natives Land Act of 1913, Alex remained one of the few areas where black people could own land under a freehold title.

Did You Know?
AA wealthy farmer, Mr Papenfus named the township after his wife, Alexandra.

NNot willing to take responsibility for an area that it claimed was not under its jurisdiction, the Johannesburg City Council would not supply basic resources, such as electricity, to the area. This is how Alex became known as the Dark City.

Cycle Tour of Alexandra

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IIn 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.

To have a fully immersive Alexandra experience, book a cycle tour with Alexandra Tours or the Ekala Eco Tours. You get to meet the locals, taste the food and enjoy a drink at one of the local shebeens (informal bars). The infamous hostels can also be seen on a tour of Alexandra township.

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