Imagine such a place crammed to overflowing with a mass of humanity, deprived of electricity, running water and sanitation.
Its official name is the 'township' of Alexandria 'Alex' to its inhabitants.
Within Johannesburg, a city in which many speak ambitiously about the future, there is a desperate shortage of literate, skilled blacks to sustain the sophisticated infrastructure of the modern city.
If there is one image that captured the death rattle of the old regime, it was photographer Sam Nzima's famous picture of the bloody body of a young black schoolboy being carried through the streets of Soweto by a terrified, grief-stricken schoolfriend.
Impermanent and vulnerable to gold-rush fever, the city was always ill-equipped to be the secure foundation of a new political settlement.
The agenda has to be an African agenda, set by Africans.
Owing to a scarcity of funds, only 873 new houses are built and a further 358 beds are provided in hostels.
Indeed, he himself provides a vivid and compelling answer to the question.