GO­ING UP No moun­tain is too high for Masin­gita

Con­quer­ing Kil­i­man­jaro is not just for her bucket list, but to raise funds for an ed­u­ca­tion vi­sion

The Sunday Independent - - Front Page - AMANDA MALIBA @Aman­daMal­iba

‘IHATE lim­i­ta­tions. Any­thing that lim­its me frus­trates me,” says for­mer tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity and mo­ti­va­tional speaker Masinga Ma­sunga, who was di­ag­nosed with cere­bral palsy when she was only a few months old.

The in­born disor­der af­fects mus­cle tone, move­ment and co-or­di­na­tion, and there­fore makes it a chal­lenge for suf­fer­ers to par­take in ex­treme phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties – let alone be­ing able to sum­mit a 4 900 me­tre high moun­tain such as Mount Kil­i­man­jaro.

But Ma­sunga, who has al­ways been ready to push the bound­aries, is not afraid.

She is pre­par­ing to join scores of celebri­ties and other in­flu­en­tial peo­ple whose names are on the list of those who have sum­mited Kil­i­man­jaro, say­ing noth­ing is rea­son enough to stop her.

Ma­sunga says put­ting lim­i­ta­tions on peo­ple suf­fer­ing from cere­bral palsy is part of the rea­son why so­ci­ety looks down upon peo­ple such as her.

How­ever, she also ac­knowl­edges how bizarre some of her ideas are at times.

“Peo­ple may think I am naive,” she laughs.

“But to be hon­est there are times when I wish I wasn’t like this… did not have this dis­abil­ity, but I can’t help it.”

She is a woman who hates be­ing lim­ited.

“When­ever you try to limit me, there is some­thing in­side me that rises and that has cost me at times.

“Those are the times I would wish that I wasn’t like this.

“But I push the lim­its and the bound­aries be­cause I don’t un­der­stand why one must be lim­ited.”

On why she is so deter­mined to make a mark, she says: “I agree that it would be eas­ier not to live one’s purpose, just stand by the robots and beg for money.

“That is eas­ier.

“But I want at the end of my life when I see God, for Him to say, ‘Well done. You did what you were born to do’”.

Speak­ing from a po­si­tion of one who has had to fight her way to make her mark in the world, Ma­sunga says grown-ups are more cruel to­wards peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties than chil­dren.

Her school days were far more bear­able than what life has dealt her in more re­cent years, she says.

“The world is a bru­tal place to ex­ist, es­pe­cially when you have a dis­abil­ity.

“With me, you’d ex­pect that they (peo­ple) have seen me on TV and, there­fore, would be kinder, but no.

“The worst is that you can’t even get the same treat­ment from any­one.

“I chose the most hos­tile in­dus­try to ex­ist in and still l have to fight for the ba­sic things,” she says.

“But as you grow you learn which bat­tles to fight, and to pro­tect my­self I have had to walk away nu­mer­ous times and do what I can do,” she adds.

With this in mind, Ma­sunga went on to ded­i­cate 39 years of her life to in­spir­ing the African child.

Con­quer­ing Mount Kil­i­man­jaro is not only about tick­ing her bucket list but is about rais­ing funds needed for de­vel­op­ing her de­sired ed­u­ca­tional cur­ricu­lum and build­ing an ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion named the African Dream Vil­lage.

The in­sti­tu­tion, which forms part of her 40 for 40 ini­tia­tives as she turns 40 this year, will be de­signed to bet­ter equip African chil­dren, while also help­ing them find their purpose, she says.

“I face a chal­lenge with the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, based on my own ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I re­alised that our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and cur­ricu­lum is not equip­ping the African child, and is still very lim­it­ing and very dic­tat­ing.

“So for the past 10 years, I’ve al­ways wanted to de­velop a cur­ricu­lum and build an in­sti­tu­tion that will help African chil­dren be who they are while they are learn­ing.

“Learn­ing doesn’t have to change who you are,” she adds.

Ma­sungu ex­plains that the idea of sum­mit­ing the moun­tain is also to in­spire an African child “to say we know there are lim­i­ta­tions but there is no moun­tain that is too high”.

You can reach greater heights. “So what­ever lim­i­ta­tions there are, you can over­come them and reach any height that you want to go,” she ex­plains.

The 40 for 40 ini­tia­tive will also cel­e­brate South African stal­wart Robert Sobukwe, founder of the Pan African­ist Congress, as this year marks 40 years since his death. “Robert Sobukwe stood for ed­u­ca­tion that ser­vices Africa, so it is only fit to cel­e­brate him.

“Some of the other ini­tia­tives will be rolled out in time as I con­tinue to raise the funds, be­cause this school will hap­pen no mat­ter what,” she adds.

Ma­sunga will also be back on the small screen soon but says that is for peo­ple to see later in the year.

She leave on Satur­day from the OR Tambo in­ter­na­tional air­port with a group of friends.

WHAT­EVER THE

LIM­I­TA­TIONS, YOU CAN

CON­QUER THEM AND

REACH NEW HEIGHTS

PIC­TURE: SPHIWE MHLAMBI

PUSH­ING BOUND­ARIES: Masinga Ma­sunga is gear­ing up to sum­mit the Mount Kil­i­man­jaro next week­end.

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