In December 2015 I had the privilege to be part of the   Umthombo iConnect team that was  planning to do an audio drama on People Living with Disabilities. Before writing the script, we  decided to do some research. I must say I found this very interesting. As part of the research I  attended the International Day of People with Disabilities celebrations at the Bulawayo small city  recommended by Soneni Gwizi. Here I was blown away by the performances such as singing  the national anthem in sign language. Also the people I sat with were very friendly and included  me in every joke, such joy! After completing our research both online and offline, we proceeded  to record our podcast and you can listen to it   here .

A few weeks ago I attended the Bulawayo commemorations of World Down Syndrome day  but  this time it was different from the Dec 3 event last year. I was very disappointed by the poor  attendance from the general public, the media, and the absence of the local council. At least the  MP for Bulawayo East, Mrs. Tabitha Khumalo was in attendance and she also expressed her  disappointment particularly the absence of media coverage. This is not why I’m writing this  article though, let me dive right in.

Disabled Ramp sign at the Byo City Large Hall

Disabled Ramp sign at the Byo City Large Hall

Well I’m worried about the low attendance and support for events for people with disabilities  (PWDs). Actually not just the events, but their initiatives and general day to day lives. PWDs’  blogs don’t receive much review or views, days such as the International Day of People with  Disabilities are not recognized by most in Zimbabwe and their health issues among other issues  are not properly addressed. I mean people with disabilities don’t ask for much, just the  recognition of their needs and rights like inclusion in every aspect of life. But what do we give  them? We give them discrimination. From my interactions I have noticed that women with  disabilities have it worse. My sister   Colleen Chifamba said it better when she said “the  non­disabled sector is not yet willing to be open minded about disability issues and would rather  assume what people with disabilities want and need.” With so much information at our disposal,  this shouldn’t be the case.

I long for the day when I see disability news on TV. I long for the day when society stops feeling  pity for people with disabilities. Actually feeling pity is the last thing you should do. The  government and our society has to partner with people with disabilities and work together to fix  the problems faced by PWDs.

Our starting point should be learning about disabilities and helping out at the community level  (Ubuntu). All this won’t happen overnight. It has to be a collective effort on our part the non  disabled sector. When was the last time you interacted with a person with a disability? It will  happen gradually if we shift our attitude towards people with disabilities.

One day the revolution will be televised!