IN­SPIR­ING YOUTH: Nkateko Mabasa

Nkateko Mabasa lives with her dis­abil­ity, but never lets it be­come her life

Empowered Youth Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Happy Rikhotso


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.


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.


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.

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