The two centers, whose communities assembled together for the purpose of the donation’s formal event, were identified by Quadpara Gauteng North, an NGO representing people with spinal cord injuries as some of the beneficiaries who stood to gain from a total of 150 wheelchairs also, already or still to be distributed to areas stretching from Soweto, Alexandra, Tembisa, Pretoria, Gauteng North and onto Sebokeng.
Part of a roadshow covering about six centers spread across Gauteng, the initiative is a gesture of goodwill falling within the affable comedian’s birthday month and actually followed up on an announcement back in April, when he committed to focusing a part of his time and career on raising funds to help communities in need across Gauteng.
His quest had stemmed from a show he had on Kaya FM, where some members of the disabled community had felt that his jokes could also serve as a tool of bringing their plight to the forefront.
Seizing the cudgels of their challenge, Skhumba then hosted a comedy show at the Market Theatre in July where all proceeds went toward the purchasing of 50 wheelchairs to be donated to communities in need.
Meanwhile, Diageo SA’s Johnnie Walker brand got to know about his act of kindness and unhesitatingly decided to climb on board by doubling the amount and purchased 100 wheelchairs, bringing the total to 150.
“We as Johnnie Walker took up the challenge to be involved in helping communities by purchasing wheelchairs for men, women and children that are not able to afford them. We saw a great opportunity to partner with Skhumba in this initiative and we look forward to putting smiles on the faces of the recipients”, said Zanele Njapha, Communications Manager at Diageo SA.
Around 70 wheelchair-bound persons had gathered in the 23 year old Tokologo Self Help Center’s parking lot as they waited for the comedian who had earlier wrapped up obligations on a Kaya FM breakfast gig and Skhumba didn’t disappoint when he eventually showed up by instantly inducing all-around laughter amongst them through typical quirks.
“I’ve been sent by God”, he quipped in Zulu upon arrival in explaining his role as a comedian.
“We’ll be sure to come back and check that you don’t sell the wheelchairs after this”, he later jokingly warned them – to uproarious laughter! Taking an opportunistic pot shot at the wheelchair-bound chairperson of Quadpara Gauteng North, Simon Manganye, he teased, “it seems you are here to steal the wheelchairs” – in noting Manganye’s ever presence throughout the roadshow.
The 30 brand new wheels were split between Tokologo Self Help Center [who stood to acquire 13] and the Mofolo-based, Independent Living Center [who stood to take ownership of 17] – represented by project coordinator, Paulina Mofokeng and peer counselor, Clara Moloi, respectively.
Among the gathered people was 31 year old wisecrack, Lethlogonolo Ngakantsi, one of the seven residents at Tokologo who spelt out wanting to equip himself with youth development skills and is involved in campaigns centering on awareness about disabilities as well as cute 8 year old Khanyisile Mtshali, who bore the distinction of being the youngest person with a disability amongst the others of both gender and varying states of adulthood.
Seeming curious and well-behaved, young Khanyisile was accompanied to the handover by her mother, Thandi.
The speeches done with, Skhumba, residents, guests, visitors and day users of the Department of Social Development-subsidized Tokologo’s facilities [such as the computer lab which run Microsoft classes and offers free classes for people with disabilities] were treated to a light lunch of finger snacks and cool drinks as more banter, jokes and sense of moment was keenly shared by all present.
“It is a risk to have only one wheelchair at a time”, commented Simon Manganye, evidently appreciative of the donors’ effort and in explanation of the logic of the beneficiaries having spare wheels – in case of the unexpected!