PITCH: 31 Longboat Road, Sunnydale, Cape Town, 7975
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Words: Lungisa Mnqwazi
Image: Lungisa Mnqwazi
In the heart of the Eastern Cape is a rural village called Cofimvaba, where Big Issue vendor Zuko Pholo, 28, was born. Like many children who are raised in rural areas, Zuko learned important life lessons while herding his family’s livestock. “Growing up, herding the livestock taught me to be responsible and accountable for my actions,” he says.
Living in a rural village is unlike city life, and Zuko has fond memories of his childhood days. “There’s one memory that always makes me laugh when I think about it. One day, I was sent to the shop and got distracted by playing ball on the way back. When I got home my granny gave me a lecture about being late. Some of her words really stayed with me. She said politely, ‘You know what, my grandson? The early bird catches the fattest worm.’ I didn’t know then what that meant but I know now that you must always fight for your survival,” recalls Zuko.
MAKING ENDS MEET
Zuko moved to Cape Town after matriculating in 2009. His older brother Bongani was a Big Issue vendor, and encouraged him to become self- employed by selling the magazine.
Zuko followed in Bongani’s footsteps and the two brothers now sell the magazine near Longbeach Mall. “I have never worked elsewhere and have been surviving by selling the magazine since 2013. If you don’t have any passion, then sales aren’t your best friend.
“Being a vendor is not easy because there are a number of other people who are also selling the magazine nearby. We are not making money as we used to before. You must have your own reliable customers in order for you to earn a living, otherwise it’s a dry season,” he says.
FAITH THAT MOVES MOUNTAINS
As a devoted Christian, Zuko spends most of his time reading about the word of God. “I believe there is nothing impossible with Almighty God; all things are possible through Him. Even my dreams will come true if I keep on believing and worshipping Him.”
Zuko has always been interested in pursuing his studies and earning a decent income. “Growing up, I wanted to be a policeman. Upon my arrival here in Cape Town I wanted to apply to join the police but due to the high crime rate in the township, I decided to do First Aid Level 1, 2 and 3 instead. I was hoping to study to become a paramedic assistant but I failed the entry test. The test is quite expensive; you have to pay R300 every time you go for it,” he says.
While it’s taking him a bit longer than anticipated to reach his goals, Zuko is determined to make a success of his life. “I have bigger plans for my future, and I will take it one step at a time, as I know my Lord is with me,” he says.