Move beyond superficial representation of persons with disabilities: Ndopu

We need to see people with disabilities leading and shaping the landscape and the discourse within the context of media, moving beyond superficial representation and really aiming for deeper and meaningful representation that centres the voices of people with disabilities.

This was the sentiment of Edward Ndopu, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Advocate and activist for persons with disabilities during an exclusive interview with Nampa in the capital on Tuesday.

Ndopu, who is on a four-day visit to Namibia as a special guest speaker at the 5th Annual Children's Parliament of Namibia (CPN), said that are not a homogenous group as no two disabilities are the same with the consideration of the multiplicity of identities and experiences.

We need to see more nuanced representation of disability which takes into account the multiplicity of experiences and identities that we as people with disabilities embody so that we can see a richer, more textured representation of disability., he said.

Ndopu added that the media should start by interrogating the current ways in which issues pertaining to persons with disabilities are reported adding that the public needs to see people with disabilities that are not just beneficiaries of charity or international development.

He shared that his advocacy was largely informed by his own experience, sharing that, at two-years-old, he was diagnosed with a degenerative condition, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which weakened his muscles and inhibited movement, adding that doctors concluded that he would only live to the age of five.

Ndopu is currently 29 years-old.

What propelled me into activism was my not-withstanding my disability. I ought to be entitled to the same rights that my non-disabled counterparts enjoy and this is really motivated by the deeper recognition that we need to affirm the humanity of people with disabilities and that I, like so many people with disabilities, deserve so much more than to be looked at through the prism of vulnerability, he said.

Ndopu shared that he sat down on Monday with Namibian Deputy Minister for Disability Affairs, Alexia Manombe-Ncube, spoke at length, he said, about the need for society to start seeing people with disabilities as empowered, having access to self actualisation in the same way that people with non-disabled people have.

He said he was looking forward to listening attentively to the challenges presented by the young people at the 5th Annual CPN and the recommendations that would be shared.

Source: Namibia Press Agency