A vast majority of people/ students with disability (PWDs) fail to get college degrees. Even when a few do, it sometimes takes considerably longer, than the stipulated duration of the course.
Nevertheless, Ronald Mwebembezi, a PWD managed to reach this marvelous milestone and he is among the thousands of students who graduated during Makerere University ‘s 72nd graduation ceremony, which commenced on Monday and graced by the President of Uganda, H.E Gen. Yoweri Museveni.
He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Education (BAED) degree, majoring in Literature and English.
However, there is more to just this graduation. It is excruciatingly hard for students with disability to make it to the graduation tent.
Systemic challenges, like inadequate training for those supposed to cater for their special needs, and insufficient facilitaties tailored towards facilitating a special needs student, exacebates the situation further.
Adding salt to the already fermented bread, these students with special needs endure moments of relentless discrimination, bullying and are looked down upon by some peers, making the education road ahead more miserable and difficult.
Amidst all this, they need sufficient social and psychological support from responsible stakeholders, to be able to cope up with an increasingly difficult school environment.
Ronald, just like his contemporaries marked his graduation day with pomp and glamour, precipitated by ecstasy, despite going through a lot as a PWD to get to the graduation tent.
This inspired a seasoned poet, a one Daniel Tusiimukye, who is also a second year Engineering student at the same university, to write an emotional congratulatory poem, aimed at not only lauding Ronald for this achievement, but also to serve as an inspiration to other PWDs in institutions of higher learning, to persevere in the challenging school environment, vital for the successful completion of their respective courses.
Here is a quick primer of the poem
IN HIS SHOES, IN HIS OWN WORDS.
By Daniel Tusiimukye K’abaasa,
I stand at ease to rhyme
The songs of happiness and life,
For he made it, the pride and the success,
He graced it, the dream of his life.
“But of a truth, I’m not anymore with a life,
For I’ve smiled all the smiles of times,
At peace with all of my heart.
For this was the goal of my life.
When life’s hurdles brought me this way,
There wasn’t anything to redeem but to have hope,
Sleepless nights, I stood,
Hopes of a tomorrow, I bore.
If I don’t thank God, I hurt my heart,
I indeed cease to be an ancestor of Adam,
If I don’t grace life, I’m not the man,
For the gown came home, and is there to stay.
To all that saw me through since the day, a first,
To those that pushed me through my two wheels,
To those that oiled the paths I trod,
To those that wiped the tears of my eyes.
To the lecturers that stood my impatience,
To my classmates that watched my indulgence,
To my roommates that witnessed my hindrances,
And my parents that embraced my utterances.
This is for you, for the love,
Cheers to the friendships along the way,
There wouldn’t be a Ronald in the cap,
If there wasn’t you beside.”
Congratulations Ronald, you’re an inspiration that we can all believe in ourselves.
You’re a motivation that disability is not inability.
Your parents are proud of you, your peers look up to you, Cheers to the new life out of the gates of Makerere.
May you find favour!
Daniel Tusiimukye, a second year Engineering student at Makerere University is also a writer and an award winner of the AfriCan Honree Authors Award in Lonehill, South Africa in July 2021. He is the C.E.O of Iconic Publications, a publishing house founded in 2020.
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