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By: Wonder Guchu

Mateus Angula was born without legs but he runs a tuck-shop, takes up electrical repair jobs and is a member of the paralympic swimming team.

Only that this time, he could not be included on the list of those who left for Tokyo.

He has been to South Africa, Mexico and London on national duty with the paralympic team.

“I started swimming when I was in primary school. When I came to Windhoek, the Namibia Paralympic Committee saw and said they saw a future in me,” he recalls.

This time around, he says his name was supposed to be on the list but does not know what happened.

According to Mateus, even the committee members told him that they are disappointed that his name was not on the list.

“Maybe, they needed a small number,” he says.

Even this too, just like all the other tough times and conditions nature has thrown at him, does not deflate Mateus’ spirit.

The 27-year-old stays alone in Windhoek and mans his tuck-shop on a daily basis.

Mateus’ condition is called congenital limb defect. This is when an arm or leg doesn’t form normally as a baby grows in the uterus.

The exact cause of a congenital limb defect is often not known, although certain things may increase the chances of a child being born with such a defect.

Some of the defects could be gene problems or exposure to some viruses or chemicals.

His left hand also has two fingers. This condition is called syndactyly where children are born with fused or webbed fingers.

Whatever caused Mateus’ condition does not matter to him at the moment. All he knows and understands is that although he is different, Mateus can do everything others can do.

“I want land to set myself up,” he says.

Currently, Mateus is renting and this poses some challenges sometimes, he says.

Of course, Mateus has approached the authorities asking for help and was told to write a letter to the councillor.

He did this about two weeks ago and is now waiting for a response.

“I can help create employment. I am strong,” he says.

Well, he is indeed strong. One must see him working in the field at the village. He moves in tandem with others who are on their feet.

One must also see him on a ladder fixing electricity or cutting wood while perching on a tree branch.

One must also see him driving or spinning cars. Mateus can do all that.

Monday morning, he was in Havana getting stock for his tuck-shop. From there he went to Okruyangava and then Cash & Carry in the northern industry.

While Mateus does all these things with ease, he admits that his condition sometimes makes it difficult for him to do other things.

For example, when he came to Windhoek to study, he had challenges with taxis because sometimes his wheelchair could not fit into the boot.

There were times when some taxi drivers would not want get out of the cars and help him with the wheelchair.

He also wants to acquire a driving licence but the cars in Namibia right now do not have controllers which he would need.

The economy has also affected him and whatever little he makes in his tuck-shop does not cover all his expenses.

Although he knew from an early age that he was different, Mateus was also confident that he could do what others did.

“I know it is challenging but it gives me some positive vibes to move forward,” Mateus says.

He has had positive vibes all his life despite some young children in kindergarten laughing at him.

In senior school, he says, they understood him and the situation was better.

After Grade 12, Mateus came to Windhoek after failing to get enough points. He enrolled at a college doing electronics. Later he moved to the Windhoek Vocational Training College (VTC).

Once again, Mateus could not complete his course because of lack of money.

Still, he did not wallow in shame and self-pity but set out to open a tuck-shop which has become his main source of income.

By the look of things, Mateus is not going back to  Ilambo village in Omusati region where he was born 27 years ago any time soon.

Brought by a maternal uncle and a single mother after the death of his father in 2002, Mateus is a flower growing on rocks but still blossoming and blooming.

Wonder Guchu

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