A walk through South Africa's oldest township - Alexandra


Recently The Hub Presents hosted our Travel Massive group on a walk about through Alexandra Township, commonly referred to as Alex. A stone throw away from the affluent suburb of Sandton, Alex’s tourism sector is fast increasing, offering township tours to many of our country’s international visitors.

Having visited many townships before, Alex was one that I shied away from, having previously heard so much negative stories on.


Curious children watch us as we pass by

So when the opportunity arose to visit, I jumped at the opportunity to challenge my own fearful boundaries. Just to be on the safe side, I left all my jewellery, my fancy cell phone and my purse at home, and headed to the township. On arrival I was greeted by our friendly tour guides – Sifiso and Semadi, who began telling us all about the history of the township.


We were created by this lady with a beautiful smile. It still bogs my mind how they can carry such heavy things on their heads.

Like many people, I was under the impression that Soweto was Johannesburg’s oldest township. I was surprised to learn that it was in fact this 104 year old township and that Nelson Mandela first resided here when he came to Johannesburg.


Residents cross over the nearly built bridge over the Jukskei River at sunset.

Alex is divided into two parts – the new Alex with semi modern houses, and the old Alex with an abundant of informal dwellings aka shacks. With a population of over 200 000 people, Alex houses a concentration of immigrants from South Africa as well as Africa.