Address by Nelson Mandela at an African National Congress (ANC) rally at Alexandra Stadium, Alexandra

19 August 1995


1.1 The first time I came to Alexandra was in the early 1940s. I came here to find my home away from home. I was filled with idealism and hope. I never would have imagined that 50 years later we would gather here as free citizens to decide our own future.

1.2 In the April elections, you came out in your thousands to vote for a free country. You gave your overwhelming support to the ANC. Jointly, we ensured that South Africa is on the road to building a better life for all.

1.3 The people of Alexandra played no small part in the brave struggle for a democratic, non-sexist, non-racial society. Among other things, you will forever be remembered for that marathon "Azikhwelwa" bus boycott of the late fifties. Following the banning in 1960, Alexandra became the centre of the ANC's clandestine re-grouping.


2.1 Back when I lived in Alexandra, this township was known as the "Dark City" because of the complete lack of electricity.

2.2 Today Alexandra has been partially electrified and our immediate challenge is to electrify the whole township and transform it from the "Dark City" into the "City of Light".

2.3 Electrification is also very crucial in the drive against crime.


3.1 During the years I lived here, the people of Alexandra ignored tribal and ethnic distinctions. Instead of being Xhosas, or Sothos, or Zulus, or Shangaans, we were Alexandrans. We were one people, and we undermined the distinctions that the apartheid government tried so hard to impose.

3.2 It saddens and angers me to see the rising hatred of foreigners.

We had a legacy of unity and solidarity here. This great legacy has been undermined by recent attacks on foreigners some of whom are naturalised citizens.

3.3 We cannot blame other people for our troubles. We are not victims to the influx of foreign people into South Africa. We must remember that it was mainly due to the aggressive and hostile policies of the apartheid regime that the economic development of our neighbours was undermined. Through a regional development strategy, under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community, we can ensure that the region is reconstructed.

3.4 The Government is addressing the problems of illegal immigrants through new legislation that is before parliament. Meanwhile, no individual must take the law into their own hands.


4.1 To ensure the development of our locality, we need councilors who are committed to the prosperity of the area. In selecting our candidates, we must choose people with a reputation of serving the community. Our list must be broadly representative of all the sections of our community.

4.2 The reconstruction process has already begun with the cleaning and repairing of streets, and the installation of robots. These advances must continue. Jobs must be created for the people of Alexandra while facilities are being upgraded and developed.

This vision can only be realised under an ANC-led local council.


5.1 Alexandra and its surrounding communities, Sandton, Kew, Wynberg, Marlboro and Kelvin have an essential role to play in the economic life of Gauteng. But in order to fulfill that responsibility, this community has to deal with the rising crime rate and lawlessness. Crime in Alexandra has reached intolerable proportions by any standards.

5.2 When I visited this area earlier in the week, I pledged that the Government of National Unity has declared an all out war on crime. The Government and the Police Services stand firmly by that pledge. For its success, we need the active co-operation of the affected communities. It is encouraging to note that the Community Policing Forum has ith the South African Police Services, you will contain crime and create a situation in which the local people can operate freely and enjoy the fruits of their labours.

5.3 While I understand the frustration of those students who recently attacked known criminals, the Government cannot allow people to take law into their own hands. Such behaviour is a form of lawlessness. Our fight against crime must be a disciplined one, waged within the confines of the law. In this way, we will achieve our aims.


6.1 Now, more than ever, communities need to be united. Just as unity was vital in the liberation struggle, it still is very important for the implementation of the RDP. That is the only way in which the community can prioritise its needs and fully exploit its potential. A divided community spends valuable time in internal wrangles that can only sap its strength and ensure its failure.

6.2 It is disturbing to note that Alexandra has four civic associations and organisations that are all claiming allegiance to the ANC. That is not our tradition and it is an unacceptable waste of resources. Such tendencies can only divide and weaken the community. disunity has no place in our ranks.

6.3 I sincerely appeal to the leadership of this heroic community to find a way of ironing out differences for the sake of Alexandra.

The community has a role to play in this regard. Don't allow yourselves to be divided. You are Alexandras - you are one community. For you to speak with one effective voice, you need a united leadership.


7.1 This meeting is important since it brings together neighbours who have been living quite separately for too long. It brings together people from Alexandra, from Kew, from Sandton. The local government elections will ensure that these communities are forged together to form a strong and vibrant community; a community based on the principles of non-racialism and non-sexism; a community based on the principle of development for all people of this area.

7.2 I am looking forward to the day when Alexandra, as well as the communities that surround it, become the united and organised community that I remember as my home. I believe that the local government elections will go a long way in realising this great potential.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation