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Johannesburg tours | Tour2.0 | Alexandra

Alexandra, Johannesburg

Lights, gangs and all that jazz

with Asanda Daza
Hop-on, Hop-off
  • Rating

  • 3½ hours

  • Saturday & Sunday

  • 12+

  • 2 to 16 people

  • Incl. Food

  • Reviews

3 and a half hour Hop-on, Hop-off tour

Tour highlights:

1. Msomi gang headquarters.
2. Nelson Mandela’s house.
3. Alex High school.
4. Sample Umqombothi (traditional beer).
5. King’s Cinema.
6. Club Jazz on 7th Avenue.

Includes:

Tour guide, food and refreshments.

Excludes:

Transport to and from tour.

Show Detailed Itinerary

The 1950’s are generally touted as a golden age of creativity and optimism for black South Africa in spite of the legislative introduction of apartheid a few years earlier in 1948. There is an air of romance that surrounds the period, which produced literary and cultural icons such as Can Themba, Todd Matshikiza, Ernest Cole, Bob Gosani, Dolly Rathebe, and many others too various to mention. Sophiatown is widely regarded as the nucleus of this creative activity, but this energy was far from isolated to this one location and was as much a feature of other townships like Alexandra. Far more than a mere evocation of the creative spirit of yester-year, this tour sets out to highlight the culture that exits in Alex today and foretells of the inventive possibilities that the future can bring for the area.

From the Marlboro Gautrain Station, where visitors are asked to meet, we head out by local mini-bus taxi specially hired to take us from one corner of Alexandra to the next; the first of which is no.69 12th Avenue. The lively conversation and goodtime playing out to the pulsating Afro-house beats at the chesa nyama disguise the violent history that once lived here. This official Alexandra Heritage Site was the headquarters of the notorious Msomi Gang, who conducted a reign of terror in the area in the 1950s. They were both renowned and feared; their crimes featuring in Drum magazine and other literature of the time. The owner of the business, a grandson of one of the original gang members, gives a personal narration of this history and the building’s eventual transformation into the legitimate, thriving business it houses today.

On 2nd Avenue lives a witness to the golden age of the silver screen, where the Msomis might have seen the American movie gangsters they styled themselves on. Kings Cinema is where Ntate Abraham aka "the boss" has been a caretaker since 1968 and has preserved, as much as possible, the vintage reels of film and kept the original theatre projector in working condition. The theatre was rebuilt after it was bombed by apartheid forces in 1984 and has again fallen on hard times, with a desperate need to catch a third-wind. The theatre now operates as a venue for hire to the God Never Fails Church. The 20min screening of a short film on this leg of the tour is a small miracle that’s resurrecting some of the cinema greats that have made this the incredible cultural landmark it is.

At Maloke B&B and Restaurant trading as Jazz Club (kid you not) on 7th Avenue we are treated to more than the fine dining experience that keeps patrons coming back week in and week out. On this particular occasion, Amadoda Anetshebe serve up an acapella set. The jazz group has decided to ditch their real instruments on the day to give us a taste of something new they’ve been cooking up - improvising musical instruments with their voices. Percussions are supplied through beat box, trumpet from some inexplicable vocal ingenuity and a duet in the form of quirky jazz lyrics from the band’s two vocalists.

In a few memorable hours we’ve gone back in time and discovered the un-repress-able history of the 1950s and come back to witness a different breed of creative minds, who are demonstrating that the richness of artistic expression is not a thing of the Alexandra of yesterday, but an active force that continues to define the township.

  • From R869 ZAR
    Per Person
  • From R1419 ZAR
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    Grand Total:
    R869 ZAR

3 and a half hour Hop-on, Hop-off tour

Tour highlights:

1. Msomi gang headquarters.
2. Nelson Mandela’s house.
3. Alex High school.
4. Sample Umqombothi (traditional beer).
5. King’s Cinema.
6. Club Jazz on 7th Avenue.

Includes:

Tour guide, food and refreshments.

Excludes:

Transport to and from tour.

Reviews

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