Alex is my home, says Australian-born man

2013-05-06 10:58

An Australian-born man has lived in the Alexandra informal settlement in Johannesburg for the past 26 years, and has learnt to speak Afrikaans, Venda and Zulu.

Beeld reported today that Jimmy Madau (58), who was christened James Thomas Michael Ernest Burt II, arrived in South Africa as a teenager with his family in 1974.

He lived in the UK in the 1980s, married and had two children, but divorced and relocated to South Africa in 1991 after one of his children died.

“I’ve lived in Europe and Canada, but South Africa is my country of choice,” Madau was quoted as telling the newspaper.

He said he earned his living in Alexandra as a handyman.

“You live hand-to-mouth, but here anything is possible. It’s a fantastic, fun and lovely place.”

A friend, known as Sputnik, had reportedly given him a room on her property, where he lived and had a workshop. He owned a double bed, a television set, a handmade lamp and a bathtub.

“Here in the ikasi (informal settlement), you can survive if you have hands and a brain,” Madau told Beeld.

When he first moved into the area, some residents had called him “mlungu” (white person). “I didn’t like it and I told them my name was Jimmy.”

He told the newspaper he had no plans to move any time soon. “I’m happy here. I’ve got my health. I’m alive. I eat, I sleep, I’m clean and my time is my own. What more do I need?”

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