By Gabby Tjiroze
Many people view disability as a barrier where people with disabilities are seen as victims of circumstances, but Kappa Wahimisa Kamaheke (in the above picture) has proven our society wrong. He says he is as normal as anyone and his disability does not stop him from doing what he wants to do.
Kappa is an 18-year-old singer who performs in one of the well-known Oviritje bands known as Tjitjekura Tjeriyama. He was disabled from birth – he was attacked by polio whilst still in his mother’s womb, and he moves about by using his arms.
Kappa, who started sewing bridles and making saddles for horses when he was ten years old, says God had reasons for creating him the way he did, and he accepts himself.
The disability did not prevent Kappa from developing his musical ability. He used to sing to himself when he was a little boy in the fields in Otjinene. In 2006 he was spotted on stage at a live concert in Gobabis by the band’s leader, Mbaratjo Touches Mireti, who asked him to join the band.
“Someone called my name out of nowhere and asked me to go for a meeting,” Kappa recalls. “I wasn’t sure what it was all about, but it turned out to be an audition. I was so excited.”
“We accepted him as normal, because of his voice. We looked beyond his disability, and today he is like our brother,” says Mireti.
Society’s attitudes and behaviour towards people with disabilities have had a major impact on their lives, and continue to do so. This results in members of society looking down upon people with disabilities. Kappa says he does not pay attention to society because he is determined to move forward and wants to start his own business in sewing horses’ bridles and making saddles.
“My hands are not disabled, so I cannot sit and do nothing while I can, and I thank my parents for accepting me as their child. I wouldn’t have had the strength and courage I have today,” added Kappa.
His parents and his siblings treated him as a normal child despite his disabilities. This enabled Kappa to have a balanced childhood that built his mentality, strength and durability that gave him the confidence he has today.
“Kappa is one of the toughest people. In his situation, not a lot of people with disabilities will have such guts to walk around in public,” says Kappa’s neighbour, Utarera Tjombe.
Kappa would like to encourage all people with disabilities to do it for themselves because there is no one who wants to help people who are not willing to help themselves.
“If you sit on your laurels, you will not get far in today’s wicked world, because no one would want to help a useless person,” says Kappa.
Kappa states that his disability is seen as a general sign of weakness and illness. Even the disability is limited to one condition.
People with disabilities need to be supported to live their lives where they can play positives roles as friends, neighbours, lovers, brothers and sisters instead of being the ‘special people’.
People with disabilities have a contribution to make to society, and need the expectation that they can fulfil valuable roles.