Windhoek – The visually impaired para-athlete moves with ease at his home, as he gets up and walks outside to relieve himself without any assistance.
Ananias Shikongo, 30, who lives in Goreangab informal settlement returns shortly after and takes a seat. It is after 19h00 on Tuesday night and it is raining heavily outside.
Amazed by his dexterity, the reporter asks how Shikongo moves around without bumping into objects while he can’t see. “I move around with ease in places I have been for long, ”replied Shikongo, who also gives directions to first-time visitors to his house.
He explains that he mastered the terrain when he was escorted to the main road, where he used to catch a taxi.
Shikongo usually would ask whoever is guiding him what is in the surrounding area and then masters that and with this information he is able to give directions to others.
Shikongo lost his sight in one eye at the age of four, when he was shot in the eye with an arrow. When he reached seven his other eye was kicked out by a donkey, causing him to become completely blind.
Of late, Shikongo has been dominating sports pages after winning one gold and two bronze medals at the Rio Paralympic Games in Brazil.
After the Games in Brazil, Shikongo won the Sports Achiever of the Year award, Sportsman of the Year and Team of the Year awards, which earned him more than N$300 000.
In addition, the House of Joy Ministries gave him a Toyota pick-up truck and Standard Bank will build him a house worth N$500 000.
Last year, the outspoken para-athlete complained to New Era about his joblessness and hardship, despite having won three gold medals at the All Africa Games (AAG) in Congo-Brazaville. He also complained about not having taxi money to go for training.
Shikongo further complained about missing out on the Disabled Sportsman of the Year award last year. Finally this year, his efforts paid off.
New Era spent Tuesday evening with the para-athlete at his residence in Goreangab, where he has lived for about seven years. He was in the company of relatives and a playful puppy, that he named after fellow para-athlete Lahja Ishitile.
Shikongo explained that Ishitile can still get back at him, but only when she wins a gold medal can she name her puppy Ananias. Shikongo also sees it as a way to encourage Ishitile in her endeavours on the track.
“I’m happy with everything that has happened. We were complaining last year. I am not only happy that this is happening to me, but everyone has to get what they deserve.
“It’s the right thing and it happened at the right time,” he remarked and further said after the Olympics this year, companies and churches now recognise that what para-athletes are doing is good for the country and started assisting them.
Asked what he intends to use his winnings on, Shikongo said he would invest some of it to start a business. He also said that he would also plough some back into his sport, so that he can continue with his career.
“I will have to think about the future. If people find me walking in the streets tomorrow they will say ‘That is Ananias who won a lot of money’.”
He further explained that he has to start a business that will assist him in life. “ I have four business plans, so I have to go and ask for advice from different people to tell me which one to follow. I studied business at the former Polytechnic and I know what it is,” said Shikongo, who has a certificate in marketing.
Shikongo added that from his winnings he would also share with his guide, Even Tjiviju.
Shikongo had earlier explained that a guard is like the driver and keeps the athlete in line. “He is not going to run slower or faster. You have to have the same pace. If he is in front of you, you will be disqualified and like that he is not running, but pulling,” he remarked.
The Toyota bakkie that he won has been doing its job already, as he is now being driven to his training sessions by his nephew or brother. Sometimes his guide drives him.
Having lived in an informal settlement where people fetch water from communal taps and no toilets, Shikongo is happy that he will be leaving the area soon to move into his new home.
“I’m happy that I’m leaving this situation and moving into a home. I feel happy for this change that happened in my life and I know that I’m going to live in a better standard.”
Shikongo, who currently accommodates Johannes Nambala, said they will both move into the house after its completion and will also accommodate other sportsmen.
“My colleagues from the north used to come to Windhoek when we have competitions here and I have to accommodate them in my room. I currently live with Nambala. I can’t throw him away and I will continue accommodating him in my life.”
About Nambala, Shikongo stated he is brilliant sportsman who can bring home a gold medal and this will be possible for he is accommodated in a good place and is able to get to training on time.
About his personal life
Although Shikongo has a two-year-old son he said he is not involved in any romantic relationship at present. “My son is in the north with my parents. I don’t have a girlfriend. I am single but not available,” he said laughing.
Shikongo, who hails from Okankolo in Oshikoto, will be visiting his parents soon, whom he has not yet seen since returning from Brazil. He will surely take his medals to show his proud parents, he said.