INSPIRING YOUTH: Nkateko Mabasa
Nkateko Mabasa lives with her disability, but never lets it become her life
I LIVE WITH MY DISABILITY, BUT I DO NOT LET IT BECOME MY LIFE.
Affecting approximately 70%-80% of all people diagnosed, spastic Cerebral Palsy is a condition caused by brain damage, either before or during birth or within the first years of a child’s life. Commonly known as a developmental disorder that affects the normal motor function development. Nkateko Mabasa is a 28 year old vibrant and multi-talented young adult who is one of those diagnosed with the condition. Nkateko opens up to Empowered Youth about living with her disability and how she makes sure that she achieves her goal effectively.
Nkateko was born and raised in Alexandra, a famous township in Gauteng Province, South Africa. At 12, she started using a wheelchair and crutches to date. “In all honestly, I must admit that when I first received my crutches I felt nervous more than anything else, because it was new to me,” she says. The 28 year-old Nkateko remembers sitting in her chair, feeling nervous, emotional, excited, overwhelmed and proud. “I somehow could not believe I made it happen for myself. I took the crutches in my hands, I felt them, held them to my chest before I finally stood up from my old friend the (Wheelchair) in all this excitement, a bit of sadness was felt because I no longer was going to relate to my chair, but I had to say goodbye. Being in a wheelchair felt different and I wanted to stand on my own and walk and I am happy that I am doing just that,” she says. Like any other young girl, Nkateko went to Forest Town School and was one of the top achievers.
Regardless of her condition, she went to register with the University of Johannesburg, where she enrolled for a degree in Fashion Design for a period of 4 years. “I am a lover of very beautiful things growing I had 9 dolls which I spent a lot of time with and I think that is where the love of fashion was planted. Growing older I struggled finding clothes that fitted me properly and I wanted to create my own style and feel. I totally love the fact I can create a beautiful outfit,” she says. “My biggest challenge in varsity was working in groups it seemed uncomfortable for others as I believe they were not sure how to really interact with me without feeling like they were offending me. And I overcame this challenge by simply showing them that I am awesome, and they didn’t have to tip toe around me and I think that it worked overtime,” she shares.
LIVING WITH HER DISABILITY:
As many as one in five young women are living with a disability, different disabilities may present challenges, but many people can and do enjoy full productive lives. “Living with a disability for me personally has been quite an interesting journey through life, my disability has really taught me strength and to have an understanding. I had experienced discrimination. It is a real thing,” she says.
Nkateko has recently entered a pageant and had read through the requirements carefully and clearly understood them. “Nowhere did it state that women with disabilities may not enter this competition and then after I had paid the entrance fee and sent in my photos they called me within ten minutes and I quote “we are sorry but we do not think you read the requirements properly and you might cry if you do not win” closing quote. And to add insult to injure they offered to return the non-refundable deposit I felt judged for my appearance and treated unfairly as a young woman. This judgement and discrimination made my friend upset she is my biggest supporter. Every day is a challenge for me as I am judged some people that I have encountered in my life think I am not capable to think for myself just because I am living with Cerebral Palsy,” she shares.
DOING GOOD FOR HERSELF:
With her personal motto; “I live with my disability, but I do not let my disability become my life,” Nkateko has excellent academic achievements to her name. Speaking of what motivates her every day, Nkateko mentions that her creator keeps her going. “My relationship with my God is very important to me. I am motivated by people whom I have met and those in my life (Friends and Family) to not disappoint and yes, I am motivated by my strong will to discover what else I can do. I LOVE to surprise myself with new found abilities. I am #Limitless,” she says. Today she is a Gold Award holder in South Africa for the Presidential Awards for youth empowerment. She is involved in various activities, one of them being volunteering in Human Library South Africa, where she is a human library.” I love reading because I learnt a lot about myself, I learnt to speak and pronounce words properly through reading. And I love the experience every time because as a human book with the title: Rebelling and appreciating my (Dis) Ability living with Cerebral Palsy. Many of the readers that want to read me by this I mean (Having a conversation with me) answering any question the reader opens up for understanding between myself and my reader.