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Alexandra, or Alex as it is fondly known, is situated north of Johannesburg. The area is known for its vibrant culture, with impromptu restaurants and entertainment centres popping up on street corners all over the suburb. Mandela himself said: "Life in Alexandra was exhilarating and precarious. Its atmosphere was alive, its spirit adventurous, its people resourceful."
The Alexandra Heritage Precinct is found on a quiet street where the great man spent his first few months after moving from his homestead in the Eastern Cape. It was also the first of a number of recognised heritage sites in Johannesburg, attracting visitors from not only the nearby city but from abroad as well. Other sites include St Hubert Catholic Church a bit further up the road and Joe’s Butchery, one of the oldest shisa nyamas (a Zulu phrase that literally means to “burn meat”) where friends and family come together to grill meat in an open fire, usually near a butchery.
AAlso known as Dark City because the area was denied electricity during the apartheid era, Alexandra is accessible through the Heritage Precinct. One can take a stroll over the pedestrian bridge that spans 7th Avenue or amble through the local market.
Alexandra heritage Precinct
GGuided walking tours are recommended in order to get the full story and history of the precinct.
The community makes use of the centre’s facilities such as training areas and an art gallery that showcases local work. Nearby shebeens and taverns cater for thirsty and hungry visitors, offering delicious local cuisine.
Alex is the birthplace of many other famous heroes and interesting people such as Hugh Masekela, the world-renowned jazz maestro. In total Alexandra is home to over 400 000 people.
As one of the oldest townships in the country, Alex was initially a white residential township and was named after the original farmer’s wife Alexandra. Since then Alex has worn many faces, but has always remained true to its roots. Projects that involved the relocation of residents have been thwarted, and thus the township retains its local flair and heritage.
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