Our vendors: Nondumiso Zigana (The Big Issue South Africa, Cape Town, South Africa)

By Lungisa Mngwazi, The Big Issue South Africa

Big Issue South Africa vendor Nondumiso Zigana (49) hasn’t had it easy in life, yet she is as unyielding as an imbokodo (rock). Ndumi, as her friends affectionately know her, sells the magazine at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.

The former housewife relocated from the Eastern Cape in 1999 to be with her husband. “Life was smooth sailing and my husband was a caring and loving father,” says the mother of three children.

In 2003, Ndumi lost her husband in a horrific fire incident in Khayelitsha, which left her to toughen up and raise their children on her own. “Their father was responsible for everything. At the time of his death, I had two children. His passing made me a stronger individual and my children were my pillars of strength. I had to go through the mourning period quickly because children can’t eat tears for supper.”

Big Issue South Africa vendor Nondumiso Zigana. (Credit: Lungisa Mnqwazi)

Faced with the dilemma of being a sole provider to her children, Nondumiso was introduced to The Big Issue.

“Until that time, I had never worked a day in my life. I didn’t know how I was going to survive in this fast paced life of being a vendor, but I had to swallow my pride and do what any mom would do for her kids,” Nondumiso adds, chuckling.

In 2012, Nondumiso found a job as a domestic worker. She held the position for six years. In March 2018, her employer moved to England. “While I was working as a domestic, I continued to sell the magazine because what I was earning was not enough. I was working only three days a week.”

Looking back on her 16 years as a Big Issue vendor, Nondumiso beams with delight when she talks about the improvements to her life. “Selling the magazine has helped me improve my English and provide for my family. Prior to that it was difficult for me to even utter a single sentence in English, but now I can communicate better.

“I’ve managed to send my two older kids to their matric dance with the money I earned from selling The Big Issue money. My first-born son, Masixole (24), passed matric with exemption and received a bursary to study electrical engineering at Durban University of Technology. My second son, Lwandile (22), is a chef and very helpful in the house. When he gets paid, he assists with his younger sister’s needs.

“My daughter, Sisipho (13), is still in school and seems to have followed in her brothers steps because she shows great interest in science. I must say she is a genius because last year she scooped a couple of awards for her excellence in academics,” Nondumiso adds proudly.

“My goal is to see all of my kids educated and having their own houses, cars, and businesses. I have achieved my heart desire of raising my kids to be better individuals in a society that is the devil’s playground. Many kids are involved in gangsterim, yet my boys listen to me and are fulfilling their dreams and heart desires.”