A couple of weeks ago I took a walk through Alexandra Township, aka Alex, as part of an event sponsored by an Alex-based tourism company called The Hub Presents and a travel networking organization called Travel Massive. I’ve been to Alex many times but I never turn down an opportunity to go back, as I believe Alex deserves more love as a tourist destination.
A child runs next to the bank of the Jukskei River, a trickling waterway that runs through Alex.
I don’t want to say too much about this walk because I’m definitely going to do a full-length tour with the Hub Presents — it seems like such a cool company and I want to experience all of its offerings before doing a full review. But here are a few photos in the meantime.
Kids playing in a new park built along the banks of the Jukskei.
Interesting car wash sign. I chatted briefly to the owners but couldn’t get a clear answer on what the sign actually means.
Our guide, Sifiso, explained that this sewage pipe used to be one of the only places where pedestrians could cross the Jukskei. Fortunately there is a new pedestrian bridge now.
A child on the pedestrian bridge.
A small food shop — or spaza shop — in Alex.
A “gogo”, or granny, selling animal entrails and chicken feet by the side of the road.
Looking out over Alex from a sports field on the edge of the township.
Pat’s Tavern, a popular Alex hangout.
As I’ve written in previous posts, Alex is one of Joburg’s most historic places. It’s the oldest township in Joburg (older than Soweto), and it was Nelson Mandela’s first Joburg home. Alex is home to high concentrations of immigrants from all over South Africa, and Africa. Alex is severely lacking in resources and public services and the majority of its residents live in poverty. Alex is only about three square miles in size and it houses about 200,000 people, possibly more.
Alex is directly adjacent to Sandton City, nicknamed “Africa’s richest square mile”.
Alex with Sandton City looming in the background. I shot this photo during my first tour of Alex in 2011.
If you don’t live in Alex yourself, it’s easy to forget (or perhaps to pretend) that it doesn’t exist. But Alex does exist and it’s a pretty cool place to visit. I highly recommend it.
I’d definitely be interested in revisiting. Let us know some details of the tours? Mwah!
Will plan something together for sure.
People walked across the sewage pipe? Well, I guess it beats getting your feet wet. Are the rivers dry much of the year, like they are in Los Angeles?
This river pretty much always has water, I think. But it’s really more of a creek than a river, and it’s the only waterway in Johannesburg. Joburg is the largest major city in the world that is not built along a significant waterway.
I always love your Alex posts! And I definitely recognize the “sports field” shot:-) Great pictures.
It’s funny…When we ere on the tour I told the guide that I remembered watching baseball on that field and he was adamant that it’s never used for baseball. But I felt sure that it used to be.
I meant to ask, how do you usually get to Alex? Your own car by driving in? (am asking because I may also need to deliver some clothing to Alex this week as part of my Joburg visit:-)
Yep, I drive!
Looking forward to hearing more about this interesting and overlooked township.
Thanks! I’m sure you will.