Redeemed from South Africa’s Underbelly

Valdino Naidoo tells his story of growing up in poverty and a transformational encounter with Jesus.



Valdino Naidoo tells his story of growing up in poverty and a transformational encounter with Jesus.

Valdino Naidoo (commonly known as Dino) is the director of Foxfire ministries, the youth arm of African Enterprise. Here he talks to Greg Clarke about his dramatic story of personal transformation out of a life of drugs and crime.

Dino grew up immersed in poverty in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. He says, ‘it’s almost certain that where there is poverty, there will be drugs and gangsters and the influence of thugs.’ At a young age Dino became an alcoholic, a compulsive gambler and a drug-dealer. His lifestyle became progressively more damaging until, at the age of twenty-four, Dino shot a man in a dispute over drugs. At this point, Dino was living on the streets and he says ‘my life was a mess… My decent mother would come looking for me in the street at twelve at night and one in the morning, I would swear vulgar language and chase her away. People would say, “Why are you even interested in this dog? He’s a disgrace, let him die.”’

‘I tried all forms of things to try to make me feel comforted and loved … I damaged lots of families and lots of young people in the process,’ says Dino. An unlikely encounter with a Christian worker lead to a gradual, but profound change in his life.

‘In the West, when people have a lot of things, they feel they don’t need God. The problem is not in the externals and what we have, the problem is deep in the heart of a man (sic). I had a lot of things when I was selling drugs and when I was involved in my crime. I had money, I had girlfriends, my sexual needs were being taken care of, my drugging was being taken care of. I was well off. I wasn’t starving … but I realized that my problem was not on the outside, it was deep in my heart. It was a sickness that Jesus calls sin – a defiance of God deep in the heart of a man (sic). Until I acknowledged that I needed Jesus to change my heart, I would have always lived the same.

In this interview, Dino shares something of his redemptive journey away from crime and personal trauma.