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For lefties, even playing guitar or where to sit at a table is big decision

By Allan Mungai | August 13th 2021
Isack Mugunda, left hander guitarist. [Courtesy]

The legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix was left-handed. Despite being a virtuoso, there was something peculiar in the way he held his guitar - it was upside down.

Hendrix played his right-handed guitar upside down in what should perhaps log as one of the more undering images and feats that communicate the challenges left-handed people go through to perform an ordinary task. The guitarist used a normal guitar that he had restrung in the reverse order.

It is limiting when your passion and heart is in music but you are restrained by your dominant hand. The musician Kurt Cobain had guitar maker Fender make a special left-handed guitar for him. Beatles frontman Paul McCartney also famously plays a left-handed guitar. But those are few and hard to come by.

The Beatles famously had two left-handed bandmembers - frontman Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

Since 1992, International Left Handers Day has been celebrated on August 13, to raise awareness about the challenges left handers face.

Lefties have to made a conscious decision where to sit at a table when they are having a meal with friends lets they knock elbows on the table or pick up the wrong glass of water. The right choice is to make sure you get the seat on the extreme left.

Ayrton Senna, the legendary Brazilian racing driver, could command a 700 horsepower Formula 1 car but on account of his left-handedness, would struggle to muster the use of a power saw. See, there are general rules for the use of a power saw.

For your safety, your right hand should be on the throttle and your left hand should hold the handle. But the use of this equipment would prove challenging to anyone who was not adept at using their right hand.

Yet a power saw is not even the beginning of the troubles those of us who are left-handed go through.

It is the simple tasks performed by simple tools that irritate lefties. Simple tasks like using a pair of right-handed scissors, writing in spiral notebooks and playing musical instruments are everyday struggles for left-handers.

There are famous lefties in our day, President Uhuru Kenyatta and the former US President Barack Obama being two of them.

To write left-handed is to write using a hooked style a la Obama and Uhuru. But that would present a challenge writing from left to right, especially in a fountain pen. The result would be a page smudged with ink and smears on the wrist as well.

Other than Obama, US leaders Ronald Reagan, George Bush Snr and Bill Clinton were all left-handed. Prince William is the leftie in the British Royal Family. 

In sport, basketball players Lebron James and Russel Westbrook are left-handed but you wouldn’t know from watching them on the court. While the two basketball stars play with their right hand, they use their left hand for signing autographs and everything in between.

Other famous left-handers include former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel), David Cameron (UK), Winston Churchill (UK), footballers Pele and Diego Maradona, tennis star Rafael Nadal and musicians David Bowie and Lady Gaga.

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