51. Tatamba

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Persons with disabilities should be respected. If we are respected in society and we are put in a valuable position I think that it can really improve the lives of us. We need the necessary support and the necessary respect as persons with disabilities.


My predicament started at the age of 5 years when I was in the village. I woke up one morning and I couldn’t walk again; I was completely paralyzed. I shouted, then my mom came on the scene. They tried to lift me to could stand on my feet. But it was no avail. As time went on, I was completely paralyzed. I couldn’t walk on both legs so my parents thought it was a spiritual something so they had to seek spiritual assistance. I was sent to fetish priests, I was sent to herbalists. They tried and promised to help me. He said he had the medicine, some herbs to support me to walk again. He tried and tried and I was able to stand on one foot and start walking on one foot.

I had to quit school at primary 6. As time went on I realized that I couldn’t do anything again because I was sitting at home idle. So unfortunately my daddy died. He was the source of my support and he died. My mommy too fell sick – she had a heart attack and she was very weak. By the time she recovered it was too late – I had already grown. Because of my disability my daddy’s brothers, my uncles, who were supposed to come and support me, said that as a disabled person nothing worth can come out of me. They can’t spend on me, they can’t invest any money on me. That is the reason I had to migrate into Accra. When I’ve come into Accra I’ve suffered so many discriminations. I have suffered labeling and I’ve suffered rejection.

When I moved into Accra, I came to stay with my auntie, my mother’s sister. I came and my auntie found a restaurant assistant job for me. This is what I was doing when I migrated into Accra. It came to a point that I couldn’t work again so I had to quit the work because of maltreatment on the part of my boss and people find me disgusting. Because of my presence there was poor patronage – people were not patronizing the food so I had to quit.

I was able to save some money as a result of my restaurant assistant job so I gave it to my auntie to put me into a hairdressing apprenticeship. That is where she took me and I’ve started. This is what I’m doing currently. I want financial support to be able to finish my apprenticeship because most of the time I go to work with an empty stomach because the support is very poor. So it is my most difficult time.

The day I gave birth to my son was my happy moment because I thought I would not be able to give birth but I’ve given birth so that was my happy moment.

What do you think causes disability?

Spiritual aspects can cause disability. Most of it in Africa is caused by spiritual indication. And sometimes in marriage if you meet somebody you love but your parents do not agree with it, you should quit. Otherwise, if you give birth they can really attack the child and become disabled. And medical aspects. There can be two models: spiritual and medical. For the medical model, if a person contracts any disease it can really cause disability. For that model, disability is sickness.

In Ghana, what is the biggest barrier for persons with disabilities?

Lack of education for persons with disabilities is the biggest barrier.

In addition to education, what would improve the lives of persons with disabilities?

Persons with disabilities in Ghana should be financially empowered because if they are financially empowered they can really start something on their own, because they have the ability in them that they can do something. Because I am in a hairdressing apprenticeship. And likewise, my sister who is a disabled person can also be like me and can also be in the position. But it takes money to be enrolled as an apprentice. So if you are financially empowered your life could be improved.

Is there anything else?

Persons with disabilities should be respected. If we are respected in society and we are put in a valuable position I think that it can really improve the lives of us. We need the necessary support and the necessary respect as persons with disabilities.

How do you define disability?

Disability is not inability because every disabled person is not a sick person. Disability is not inability. Every disabled person can do something. For that reason I would define disability as ability.

So what is your best ability?

What I’m into now, the hairdressing apprenticeship, is my best ability.


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