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Not even polio could dump young diplomat at mercy of disability

BUSINESS
By | December 5th 2011
By | December 5th 2011
BUSINESS

By DAVID ODONGO

The saying that disability is not inability perfectly fits Naboth R Kol.

At 31, Kol holds a doctorate in Conflict Resolution. He is also a Senior Consul at the Brazilian Embassy in Nairobi. And next year, he will marry the woman of his dreams.

Kol who hails from Gulu in Uganda was struck by polio at the age of five that left both his feet paralysed.

"Actually, when the disease hit me, both my feet and my arms were paralysed, it is only later that I gained use of my arms" says the bespectacled diplomat.

Naboth Kol, a senior consul at the Brazilian Embassy. Though he was disabled by polio at a tender age, he has not let his disability stand on his way to succes. [PHOTO: JENIPHER WACHIE/STANDARD]

I walk beside him as he shuffles, along, aided by his left arm which he wears a padded piece of rubber. He effortlessly goes down the stairs and hoists himself into a chair.

Dressed in a fitting checked tweed suit and pink shirt Kol walks me down memory lane.

"I was born a normal child. I had barely started school when I was struck by polio. Being a special child, I went through a lot of torture, psychologically and physically. The other children would throw stones at me; they wanted to see how I would react. This made me quit school," reveals Kol as he drums his finger on the mahogany table, in tandem with the smooth jazz playing in the background.

DESIGNER WATCH

He pulls back his right cuff, revealing a huge blue designer watch.

Consulting the impressive timepiece, he mumbles, "We still have enough time for the interview," before he continues.

"I quit school and for five years, I stayed at home. It was my godfather who came and talked to me. He urged me to go back to school. So I decided to go back, and I have always been among the top five in my classes," he says.

Kol finished his secondary education and joined Makerere University where he did a degree in International Relations. He later undertook a Masters degree in Diplomacy. Talking about his academic credentials, Kol speaks casually belying how important they must have been.

"I didn’t get the urge to succeed because I am disabled. I put my heart in everything because that’s the type of person I am."

He reveals that early in his life, he was bitter with God for denying him the opportunity to do the things young men his age did.

"I love football. I felt so bad I couldn’t play. One day I fell down and while lying in the mud, a man came and told me God didn’t want me to walk, that’s why he made me the way I am. It made me so bitter. But in 1998, I got saved and my perception towards life changed," says the Gor Mahia recalls.

STATE scholarships

Kol lauds the Ugandan Government’s effort to recognise and support people with disability."

"In Uganda, the State gives scholarships to the disabled. In Kenya, a lot needs to be done. Very few restaurants even have washrooms suitable for persons with disability. Most offices also have staircases without rumps which persons with disability can use," he adds.

Kol lauds the Niko Fiti Campaign — an initiative of the Standard Group and Kenya Re-Insurance — aimed at ending the stigma people living with disability face.

"It is only from such initiatives that the Government can be nudged into action, to draft policies that will help people living with disabilities," he told The Standard.

The Niko Fiti Campaign, with the tagline, Ability Beyond Disability held a Gala night to fundraise last Friday at the Safari Park Hotel.

Despite his disability, Kol says he has led a perfectly normal life.

"I have dated three women. Like any other man, I have been cheated on. I once paid fees for some woman and she disappeared after she finished college. But right now, I can say I am engaged to the most wonderful woman," says Kol, who also holds two diplomas in Information Technology and another in counselling.

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