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.
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!