To the beat of one’s ability

Jabidii in action at the Ability Festival. [Courtesy]

As the world marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Tuesday, a total of Sh1.2 million was raised at the Ability Festival at the Uhuru Gardens Memorial Park.

Most of the funds raised will go towards corrective surgery for children living with orthopaedic disability and is enough to reach 8 out of 20 children.

One child has so far received corrective surgery for bowed legs at Cure Kenya.

In line with this year’s theme ‘The Future is Accessible’, the day was also set aside to champion for the empowerment and inclusivity of persons with disabilities and to help children living with disability.

The festival saw the disabled community enjoy performances from household names such as Daddy Owen, Moji Short Baba, Jabidii, Didi of Kelele Takatifu and Sammy Brayo.


One artiste stood head and shoulders above the rest. Sammy Brayo was born with no arms and he hopes that his presence on stage will inspire other disabled people to pursue their gifts.

“For me this is an event which shows the different capabilities of the disabled community. We are abled differently and we should celebrate these gifts. The disabled have amazing gifts and they need to be given the chance to showcase their gifts,” said Sammy Brayo.

Brayo also dabbles as a painter and motivational speaker and says his disability has not affected his career path. The jovial artiste sees his challenges as an opportunity to prove himself at an event that also spotlighted the need for more social inclusion.

After thrilling the crowd with his hits Haina Noma, Puliza, and Itakuwa Ngori, Didi of Kelele Takatifu pointed out that the need for more events that include people with disabilities in the programme. He feels it is part of his calling to reach out to the disabled persons.

“What it taught me as an artiste is that at the end of the day, there is a huge demographic which I can reach through music. This is not for other people to do but us,” he said.

DJ Euphorique on the decks.

Social stigma

Didi said that social stigma against disabled persons has changed from oppression to the annoying habit of treating them like fragile beings.

“It is good to see people with disability who are not pitied but are celebrated. These people usually feel isolated. When they are at home, they feel that they are on their own and there are the only ones with disability. In an event like this, they see others like them and this celebration gives them encouragement,” said Jabidii, of Shoot Satan fame.

Also present was Abed Milelu, CEO of Kenya’s chapter of CURE International, a global non-profit focused on providing medical care to children suffering primarily from orthopaedic and neurological conditions. He expressed hope that this would be the first of many ‘Ability Festivals’.

“We are here to celebrate our heroes; persons with disabilities. They are our heroes because despite society placing so many barriers on their paths, they still fight on and some have gone on to do amazing things as you can see from the exhibitions,” he said.

The event was hosted by MC Jesse, who has an eye disability, while DJ Euphorique kept the spin on the decks from a wheelchair.