Husnah Kukundakwe on representation

Dec 18, 2020, 02:56 AM

At just 13 years old, Uganda's Husnah Kukundakwe is a trailblazer, speaking up for disability rights with incredible power.

Uganda’s star of the pool Husnah Kukundakwe discusses disability rights and representation in Africa and her hopes for the future of the world.

Kukundakwe, who made her international debut at the 2019 Allianz Para Swimming World Championships in London, has had quite the battle in her 13 years: from being an outcast at school and in public due to her disability, to becoming the swimming star of Uganda.  

“(The biggest factor) is the way we are treated in public," she said. 

"A disabled child would be rejected by their family. They leave them at home to hide from the public. In the rural areas of Uganda, parents who give birth to children with disabilities are seen to be outcast. 'How could you have a kid that looks like this?' Sometimes they will even pray to the original Gods because they think giving birth to a child with a disability means you're cursed.” 

Kukundakwe, who was born with a limb impairment, experienced it all, including being outcast by her own teachers. But the youngster has defied sub-par facilities, limited opportunities and harassment to become a Tokyo 2020 contender.  

For the swimmer, her journey will be about more than sport though. “Age doesn't matter because anyone can do anything to change the world and make it a better place for other people to live in. Because if a teenager can do that and make so much in the world, why wouldn't an adult try to do the same?"

Kukundakwe also discusses the impact of Malala across the globe and her Malala Fund, in addition to family life and disability representation on a wider scale. 

Learning topics for this episode include representation, disability rights, changing perceptions, challenging stereotypes, youth leadership and education. 

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