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​Alexandra was first proclaimed a township after a group of white workers left the area in 1905 to settle in the neighbouring northern suburb of Sandton. The plots were then sold to Africans and coloureds under the freehold title in 1912; making the area a “native township”, as it was described at the time.
Addressing the crowd, President Jacob Zuma said the Alexandra centenary celebrations were also aimed at paying tribute to heroic acts of former president Nelson Mandela, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, former defence minister Joe Modise, former minister of intelligence Joe Nhlanhla, former ANC treasurer-general Mendi Msimang, former ANC secretary-general Alfred Nzo, former sports minister Steve Tshwete and ANC veterans Isaac Tlale and Maruping Sperespere, all of whom once lived in Alex, as the township is popularly known.
President Zuma also said Alexandra was a “driving hub and place of social trendsetters and legendary performers” such as Simon Mahlathini Nkabinde, Ntemi Piliso, Mahotella Queens and the Dark City Sisters, and poet and writer Wally Serote. Other prominent people who beat the odds and made Alexandra tick were renowned soccer administrator Leepile Taunyane and accomplished Orlando Pirates Football Club chairman Irvin Khoza.
“All the townships are the [younger siblings] of Alexandra. Only Sophiatown can claim to be older than Alexandra. Alexandra became the hotbed of many uprisings ... It was here in Alexandra that the first bus boycott was organised ... The rallying call of the bus boycott was azikhwelwa,” he said.
President Zuma said Alexandra also suffered many casualties during the 1976 riots. The Save Alexandra Campaign, under the leadership of the late Reverend Sam Buti, thwarted attempts by the apartheid government to forcibly remove the residents of Alexandra after it had been declared a “black spot” in 1979.
President Zuma appealed to the community to bring back the culture of respect and ubuntu and urged all South Africans to agree to disagree on issues and refrain from defaming one another. 
He also urged people to protest in a peaceful manner, saying violent protests had no place in a democratic South Africa. “What happened in Marikana should not be repeated, where workers chased away their union leaders and negotiated salary increases on their own. We should not reverse the gains of the struggle which we fought hard for,” he said.

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