Noluthando Makalima and adaptive surf: living life into the waves

Noluthando Makalima was born with cerebral palsy, but her disability never prevented her from achieving what she wanted to do in life. She is a talented young adaptive surfer from Cape Town, who gained a silver medal at the 2020 World Paralympic Championship. She currently represents South African excellences in the international parasports field and she wants to continue her training to compete again next year, despite the challenges she has to face everyday. Her main desire is to become a role model for young people. Surf isn’t just a sport for this athlete: it’s therapy, a way to feel free and safe, to challenge herself, to fully live her body. Her experience is a real life story that needs to be known in order to raise awareness about people with disabilities in sport.

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“No title”, when words dissolve in the whirlpool of deep depression

A poem entitled “No title”, because when one suffers from depression there seem to be no words to describe it. The world around seems to dissolve and words are deprived of their meaning and unfit to describe one’s feelings. This is the theme at the heart of the poem by Alum Comfort Anne, a young and talented Ugandian poet who has been inspired by her personal struggle with depression. She takes us in the middle of a stormy night, torn by the desire both to live and to die, until the break of dawn. The final verses convey not only the despair behind a suicide attempt but also the invincible faith in human solidarity and mutual support, because “we are all just human, anyway”.

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Kenya, inABLE schools for the blind and visually impaired students

Approximately one billion people in the world live with some form of disability and around 80% is located in developing countries. 90% of children with disabilities do not receive an education or attend school. To tackle this problem, inABLE has structured a specific program for young students with visual disabilities called “Computers-Labs-for-the-Blind”. We interviewed Irene Mbari-Kirika, founder and executive director of the no profit organisation to address the issue of digital accessibility in view of the Inclusive Africa Conference 2020.

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“Left without”, a woman inside the imaginery cave of depression

Akimana Divine is a Rwandan poet, mental healthcare advocate and human rights activist. Her works have been published on numerous magazines and anthologies. The poem “Left without” allow us into that imaginery cave that is depression: a dark place where one is left without anything but his/her ghosts and fears. Divine has had her own hardships in life, first as a young girl being bullied for her weight and then as a single mother raising her boy alone. These painful experiences led her to find comfort in poetry and to write her own poems as a way of struggling against depression.

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“My mother’s depression”, inherited on the night of the blood moon

Carolyne M. Acen, aka Afroetry, is a Ugandan Spoken word poet, writer and counselor. She has dedicated her life to poetry, which for her has become a form of activism to raise consciousness about delicate and complex issues: among these the condition of women, the search for freedom and all the prejudices coming from a patriarchal and macho mentality, not only African one. In this text, “My mother’s depression” she explores the theme of psychological distress linked to the family situation and, in fact, to a form of life oppressed by social constraining.

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“I am a refugee in my mind”, when the sense of belonging is lost

In his poem “I am a refugee in my mind”, Alex Kitaka describes the sense of estrangement from the world and even oneself brought by mental distress. Bad thoughts represented by house flies buzz in our head and keep saying that there is no place for us, anywhere. But Alex reminds us that there is always a chance for us to bloom like roses and to heal through sharing: “I believe that writing creates a safer place to let out and let go of feelings that endanger someone’s mental health. Like always, writing is therapy!”

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Baya Osborn, “Ocean Eyes”, where there is no past, no history

Baya Osborn is a Kenyan born poet and writer and use the pen name Bayable Word. He is just 18 years old. “My life journey has been poetic” he told us. We also asked how come he has written poems on mental health: “Mental illness is something that is really affecting any people. Mostly people of the young age, and it is we writers that are supposed to wake and encourage those people going through tough times through our writings that we care about them, we will speak for them and their lives will change”.

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Nobukho Nqaba: impermanence and migration in performance art

When it comes to migration, nothing is certain: no one knows when he/she will arrive or how long he/she will stay. The art of Nobukho Nqaba tells us stories, both visionary and real, about what is transient, destined to end. Nobukho was born in Butterworth, a small rural city in South Africa’s  Eastern Cape. When she was six, she had to migrate within South Africa due to family issues. In this interview, she tells us about her performances that convey through her own body and presence – and often through the famous “Ghana must go home” – a sense of identiy, loneliness and otherness.

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Eleazer Obeng, “The Devil’s Snare”: that silent, oppressive evil

“The sun is up, it seems like a new day sigh. you are still here. It’s not. How did you get in? I cry. Hubbub waters my anxiety. Sprouting doubt, and the traumas of my past I thought I buried.” This poem, as Eleazer Obeng tells us, “was born as annotations in which I tried to make sense of a facade created to remove an empitenss that I felt inside and that I could not explain to myself”. Dennis, this is the name in real life, defines himself as a “gender fluid” and in Ghana, the country where he was born and lives, he is an activist for queer rights.

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“I want humanity” by Mercy Geno Apachi, The Shy Poet

“Imagine you gathered all the courage and walked up to me? Me, that random girl sitting alone in the cafeteria
Me, that seemingly busy lady over a steaming cup of coffee at the cafe. Me, that swaggered teenager flocked by admirers, the envy of all. Imagine you just walked up to me and said “hi?” Imagine you gathered all the empathy and walked up to me?” Those are the first verses of a poem about solitude, depression, search for compassion.

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