Working Lives South Africa

Township guide Jeff Mulaudzi

Tour guide Jeff Mulaudzi lives in Alexandra, one of Johannesburg's sprawling townships.

Not as well known as the more affluent Soweto perhaps but it too counts Nelson Mandela as a former resident and shared in the turmoil of the final years of apartheid.

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Alex was always one of the poorer townships, dubbed the "dark city" because of its frequent power cuts. It was also an entry point for immigrants from South Africa's rural areas and surrounding African neighbours.

Today, it is little better than in the darkest days. Many still live in informal shacks with limited access to electricity and water.

Cables siphoning power from street lights spark and hiss in puddles where they trail across the street.

Jeff's one-room home is just long enough for a single bed, a desk and a wardrobe. But he counts himself lucky.

"A house like this is normally for three people," he says. "I live here alone so I am improved!"

Tourists now make regular visits and Jeff is one of Alex's guides. During the 2010 World Cup, Jeff was asked by a visitor for a tour of Alexandra and realised there was a demand from more intrepid tourists for an insight into township life.

"People come to South Africa without seeing any kind of township, so what I am trying to do is show the whole picture of South Africa," he explains.

South Africa today is a changing place. The different languages you can hear attest to the influx of many immigrants.

"Zulu is the dominating language in this township, otherwise we have endless languages," Jeff says.

Asked if he is proud of his homeland, Jeff replies: "I am proud of the country South Africa is becoming.

"For me, the age I was born in, skin colour was no longer a problem. The problem for me was that my mother and father were disadvantaged and so they did not have much money to educate me.

"We have an unbalanced economy and we need to gain wealth but so far I am very proud of the South Africa we are living in."

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