International Perspective from the Homeless

For Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday yesterday, The Big Issue vendors — past and present — shared their memories of Madiba and reflected on his achievements and his impact on their lives. The Big Issue is South Africa's street paper.


"Other South African presidents can learn a lot from Mandela. Like they can learn compassion and how to scale down on all the stuff. They don't need fancy cars and lavish parties. They can also learn to be humble because Nelson Madela is always humble." - Lizo Qatase

"If I met Mandela I would tell him I wish he could survive to over 100 years old." - Banathi Dres

"I admire Madiba's ability to reach out to people on a huge spectrum and touch those people in a real way. I admire his diplomacy - these qualities are sorely lacking in our presidency now." - Steven Busse

"Madiba created job opportunities for the people while he was president. He has done so much for us, but we are filled with greed. He showed us ubuntu. On his birthday everyone wanted to give him gifts, he said that they should give to the needy, like orphans and people living with HIV/Aids." - Alice Pina Ncata

"My best memory of Madiba is when he was in prison, he didn't want to come out. They wanted to release Mandela in the night, but he said [they should release him] in the morning when everyone can see him, and hear him." - Martin Malgas

"If I could have one of Madiba's qualities, it would be his ability to love. His love knows no bounds and I want to be that type of person. Love is what keeps us connected. I have great respect for Utata Madiba and the love he has for this nation." - Portia Mbimbi

"I was in the Eastern Cape when Nelson Mandela was released from prison. It was a great day and one I will remember always. Everyone was jumping for joy when we heard the news." - Mfundo Ncapayi

"When I think about Utata Madiba I become happy. I think of all the good he has done for this country and for me. I now have a house because of the promise he made when he came into power. I am always happy when I think about Madiba because he is such a great man." - Perina Ngambu / The Big Issue South Africa

Photo Credit: REUTERS/POOL New