Photo Audio Text Multimedia

Alexandra Guesthouse

Photos by Nikki Rixon/Twenty Ten and audio by Andrew Kabuura/Twenty Ten

Associated features: Township Guest House (Photo feature), Township Hospitality (Audio feature) and Township Rentals (Multimedia feature)

Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

South Africans nationwide have been asking how the 'common man' will profit from the international FIFA World Cup tournament which is due to begin in a few days. An estimated 350,000 foreign supporters are expected to attend the games.

Alina Thonjeni, a 69-year-old single mother to four children, has exactly the sort of entrepreneurial spirit necessary to benefit from the influx of tourists during the soccer tournament. She retired from her job in order to convert her modest but well-kept home in Alexandra township, Johannesburg, into a guest house. Her dream is to provide a viable, cost-effective alternative to the mainstream hotels and their massively inflated prices over the next month or so. At a cost of R150 per person per night, this is a realistic hope.

Alina has wide-ranging knowledge about the history of Alexandra, the oldest township in Johannesburg that was established in 1921, and is home to several South African cultural icons, activists and sporting personalities. The hostess plans to serve traditional African food to her guests, and relay her stories and memories of life in a South African township. Visitors will also benefit from first-hand experience of living as many South Africans do.

“I'll meet people from all over the world, and I want to make them feel welcome. I can provide a unique experience for tourists visiting our country,” Alina says.

So far two Dutch supporters have stayed at her guest house, but she has no advance bookings to speak of.

The South African government maintains that the World Cup will benefit the country as a whole. However, it is difficult for people to profit from the games on an individual basis due to the stringent FIFA rules and regulations.

Alina is an amazing person and a great hostess who is proud to share her home and her life with tourists. It would undoubtedly be an experience of a life time to stay in her guest house.

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