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Opinions of Saturday, 25 August 2018

Columnist: Nina Efedi

Nina Efedi writes: A letter to Hon. Alban Bagbin

The statement of the 2nd deputy speaker of Ghana’s parliament reminds me of my fight with Bibi Bright a few years ago.

The actress was deluding herself that she [a person with voluminous curves] was a perfect creation whereas the unfortunate lot of those with disability were mistakes in the sight of God.

In this case however, the esteemed member of parliament was lamenting the downfall of his party, the NDC, attributing it to the party’s poor judgement in appointing individuals like Dr. Omani Boamah [a person who stammers] as a communication official and Dr. Seidu Danaa [a person with visual impairment] as a minister in charge of chieftaincy.

For me, Bagbin is the Donald Trump of Ghana; who says what the majority of racist Americans want to say but do not have the guts to do so.

Hon. Alban Bagbin was commenting on factors that caused his party to lose power, citing influences like poor political appointments and a non-adherence of party leaders to the views of constituents.

Unfortunately, he appears to be directly attacking persons with disability, since those were his most obvious examples of poor political appointments. By his statements, he is encouraging the idea that persons with disability are not capable to work.

Implications of his statement are that, first, that employers of persons with disability are calling doom on themselves and their organizations because they will not find favour in the eyes of the general public.

Sadly, though, this is a widely held perception; and exact reason why stigmatization is still perpetuated against persons with disability. We know however, that unlike in former years, literacy and skill training among persons with disability has significantly improved.

There are increasing numbers of teachers, lawyers, administrative officials and entrepreneurs with disability who are doing marvelous for themselves and their establishments in which they work. Better still, more and more children with disability are going through education, even as far as PHD levels.

Why do I center my argument for persons with disability on the subject of education? Well, equate it to the situation of teaching people to fish and not fish for them.

Once you begin teaching and empowering them, you will realize that persons with disability, like all other persons possess an innate desire for independence and survival and not least, self-esteem.

My conclusion, first to the disabled community: Stay calm and reason with intellect, not cry for sympathy. Lest we are made to look like we want tokens of sympathy and charity, or better still, political appointments; whether we deserve them or not. To the general public: I urge you to empathize.

For disability is not a reserve of the unfortunate few. It can come upon you in a myriad of ways [like it did to me]. Visualize what our nation would do if a prominent political, religious, medical or social figure becomes disabled today. Are we prepared for such eventualities? A word to the ‘inclusive minded’ is enough.