THE University of KwaZulu-Natal and Shuter and Shooter Publishers (Pty) Ltd launched a book titled Ngamehlo Osiba last Friday at the uMsunduzi Museum.
The book, edited by Professor Nakanjani Sibiya, is an anthology of short autobiographies contributed by 10 visually challenged students from all over South Africa who share their challenges and how they overcame them.
Gauteng’s Lindiwe Manana, who lost her sight on the eve of her wedding, also contributed to the book.
Professor Sibiya said being with the university for years, he was always troubled by the students who can’t see, and decided to ask them to write about their lives and daily experiences.
“Imagine your heart leaps with joy as you finalise preparations for your wedding on the forthcoming weekend. Then a severe headache attacks you while on the way to collect your wedding gown; your vision is completely lost by the time the big day arrives. Do you resort to suicide?” asked Sibiya.
“A car in which you are travelling is involved in a horrible accident, you sustain some injuries and complain about persistent headaches after you have been discharged from hospital. Sadly, you lose your sight a short while thereafter. How do you deal with the sudden change?”
The professor also asked: “You are a few weeks away from completing your degree when a throbbing headache derails your dreams and renders since you were a toddler. Your father continually refuses to seek medical advice and insists that some traditional ritual will suffice. Eventually, you will suffer permanent eyesight loss. How do you survive the tragedy?”
He highlighted that these are but some of the situations encountered by contributors to this anthology, all of whom are visually challenged — some from birth and others later in life.
He emphasised that a common feature in their life stories is the tenacity that permeates their quest to overcome challenges attendant to visual impairment.
“Shunning self-pity, they relate heart-rending experiences that impart many eye-opening life lessons. It’s great when these stories are told by them and not us,” said Sibiya.
The contributors are currently pursuing postgraduate academic qualifications at UKZN.
The event also highlighted that anything is possible for people living with disabilities, and that nobody should be discriminated against.
Shuter and Shooter Publishers’ CEO, Primi Chetty, said this is the first launch of many.
“We are incredibly proud to be associated with these writers and for allowing us to be the custodian of their thoughts,” said Chetty.