I have been visiting Alexandra sporadically over the past few months, getting to know the place and its people. Whenever I go there I’m looking for language helpers to work with me in my language-learning business. I’m also looking for non-Christians who might be interested in reading the Bible with me.
Alexandra is a township consisting of mainly poor and some middle class residents, living in small old houses, flats, shacks, new government-built RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme) houses and some fairly new privately built houses.
One of the intriguing features of Alexandra is its location. It lies right next to Sandton on the west, the upmarket Johannesburg suburb, home to luxury hotels such as the Michelangelo Towers, the InterContinental Sandton Towers and various multi-national corporations.
On the east the township is bordered by the N3 highway and right next to that is Linbro Park Agricultural Holdings where we live. We are renting a house on a small holding, one of five dwellings on the property. Many of the residents here ride horses and they drive around with bumper stickers saying “I love Linbro Park – Country Living in the City”.
I am currently reading a fascinating book about the history of Alex which explains this rather odd location of the Black township, slap bang in the middle of White suburbia. I will blog about that later.
Two weeks ago I took my family on a drive through Alex. It was Sunday afternoon around 16:00 and everywhere small groups of people were walking with Bibles. We also saw a large group of Independent African Church members making their way up a hill in their white and green attire.
We parked our car on the pavement next to a shack. Less then five minutes after we started walking we were invited for cold-drink. A young lady with a big smile wanted to know what we were doing here. We told her that we came to visit our neighbours because we live just across the highway. “But then you must come inside!” she said.
Her shack was about the size of one of our two bathrooms. Within seconds she had a one litre bottle of ice-cold Coke and was pouring it into glasses. I don’t know where it came from but the speed at which she had it ready was pretty impressive. Then Anelia, our four-year old daughter asked “Where do you keep your food?” We all burst out laughing. She didn’t ask the question out of curiosity but because she was hungry.
Cecile asked our guest if she had a tissue for the baby. She replied: “No, but let me quickly go and buy one.” We said “No, that’s not necessary” but a little later she was back with a roll of toilet paper.
Like so many previous occasions of visiting people living in simple conditions, this was once again a humbling experience for me. In my next post I will write about our second family visit to Alex. The new header image on my blog was taken during that visit, which was last week Sunday.