Arts & Leisure

The poet who defied disability

Neo Matheka

“Disability is not inability,” this is the mantra that budding poet, Napo Phalima, lives by.

Born with physical disability, Phalima has not allowed his condition to stop him from pursuing his dream in the poetry industry.

Fresh from performing at the Mora-Mobu Poetry Session at Maqalika dam grounds earlier this month, the 29- year old poet enthusiast is fast building a name for himself in the arts industry.  

Phalima said taking the decision to perform publicly despite his physical disability has been a risk worth taking.

“It feels good to finally be seen and heard and being appreciated regardless of my disability.”

“I promise nothing but the best, and to deliver at all times when required,” he said

Growing up, he recounts having no particular interest in anything artistry, but that changed when he attended a high school English fair when doing his grade nine.

“I was among learners selected to rehearse a poem titled ‘MY GOD, MY ANCESTORS,’ and as luck would have it, I made it to the finals to represent my then school in the fair.”

He recounts eventually wining first prize, and that was when he realised he was actually good at what he does.

It was also around this time that he was inspired by one of his friends, who was already a performing poet.

“He started writing poetry in 2008 while we were in school and I loved the ooze of confidence he commanded when he was performing, his passion rubbed on me and now here I am,” he said.

It has since been a rollercoaster journey, the poet explained, saying he has had to face mountain of challenges, which fortunately he was able to overcome.

“I remember one time I was booked to perform at an event but I don’t even take the stage because organisers overlooked me. It was as if I wasn’t there. They totally forgot about me.

“Fighting to be recognised has always been a mission, but I am slowly winning that battle,” Phalima said.

“People with disabilities are often side-lined in a lot of activities, and eventually fighting to be recognised seemed to be a losing battle, however, over time I have learned that the love for art needs to be strong enough to be fought for, and that is my current reality,” he said.

Phalima has graced stages through his work and with every successful event, his poetry brand grows a little more.

“I have stopped allowing my disability define who I am. I am a winner in all that I do,” he beamed.

Apart from high school events, he has had the opportunity to perform at the Mora-Mobu Poetry Session in Maseru, which is his biggest platform.

This is one small step for Phalima, but a giant leap for everyone with an interest in the arts living with disabilities.

“I wish to see the inclusion of more people with disabilities in all forms of their art. We are all people of different abilities regardless of our disabilities,” he said.

With his rise to stardom, the poet wants to use his voice to heal and bring comfort to the lives of Basotho and Africans as a whole.

He revealed he also plans to venture into the music industry and collaborate with big names and growing ones alike.

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