Alexandra is just 13 kms from the centre of the city of Johannesburg. 'Alex', one of the oldest community townships in the province of Gauteng, goes back to 1905. The land originally belonged to a farmer who named it affer his wife. It was advertised for sale as a freehold area. Market : '. garden plots with brick houses were a frequent sight on properties that sloped down to the Jukskei River. During this period no one knew under which area they fell, as they were sufficiently distant from both Johannesburg and Pretoria. It became a distinctive community proud of its identity, a nursery of writers, musicians, sportspersons and politicians.
In 1941, the young man who was to become President Mandela had his first home in Alexandra at 46, 7th Avenue. In the late forties, after the Second World War, squatters after demobilisation were sent to Alex, as there were no homes to accommodate them in the new township of Orlando. The start of shack living began. Over 4.6km long and 3 km wide, it is home to an estimated 500,000 people. There is a mix of ethnic cultures, languages, traditions and hopes for the future. Immigrants entering South Africa from neighbouring countries have also swelled its numbers. It is a town where crime, unemployment and human needs outstrip the resources to meet them. But Alexandra Township today still remains a colourful community with people of vision and enterprise wanting to make a difference.