PUSHING BOUNDARIES: Masinga Masunga is gearing up to summit Mount Kilimanjaro next weekend. Picture: Sphiwe Mhlambi

‘I hate limitations. Anything that limits me frustrates me,” says former television personality and motivational speaker Masingita Masunga, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was only a few months old.
The inborn disorder affects muscle tone, movement and co-ordination, and therefore makes it a challenge for sufferers to partake in extreme physical activities - let alone being able to summit a 4900metre high mountain such as Mount Kilimanjaro.

But Masunga, who has always been ready to push the boundaries, is not afraid.

She is preparing to join scores of celebrities and other influential people whose names are on the list of those who have summited Kilimanjaro, saying nothing is reason enough to stop her.

Masunga says putting limitations on people suffering from cerebral palsy is part of the reason why society looks down upon people such as her.

However, she also acknowledges how bizarre some of her ideas are at times.

“People may think I am naive,” she laughs.

“But to be honest there are times when I wish I wasn’t like this did not have this disability, but I can’t help it.”

She is a woman who hates being limited.

“Whenever you try to limit me, there is something inside me that rises and that has cost me at times.

“Those are the times I would wish that I wasn’t like this.

“But I push the limits and the boundaries because I don’t understand why one must be limited.”

On why she is so determined to make a mark, she says: “I agree that it would be easier not to live one’s purpose, just stand by the robots and beg for money.

“That is easier.

“But I want at the end of my life when I see God, for Him to say, ‘Well done. You did what you were born to do’”.

Speaking from a position of one who has had to fight her way to make her mark in the world, Masunga says grown-ups are more cruel towards people with disabilities than children.

Her school days were far more bearable than what life has dealt her in more recent years, she says.

“The world is a brutal place to exist, especially when you have a disability.

“With me, you’d expect that they (people) have seen me on TV and, therefore, would be kinder, but no.

“The worst is that you can’t even get the same treatment from anyone.

“I chose the most hostile industry to exist in and still * have to fight for the basic things,” she says.

“But as you grow you learn which battles to fight, and to protect myself I have had to walk away numerous times and do what I can do,” she adds.

With this in mind, Masunga went on to dedicate 39 years of her life to inspiring the African child.

Conquering Mount Kilimanjaro is not only about ticking her bucket list but is about raising funds needed for developing her desired educational curriculum and building an educational institution named the African Dream Village.

The institution, which forms part of her 40 for 40 initiatives as she turns 40 this year, will be designed to better equip African children, while also helping them find their purpose, she says.

“I face a challenge with the education system, based on my own experience.

“I realised that our education system and curriculum is not equipping the African child, and is still very limiting and very dictating.

“So for the past 10 years, I’ve always wanted to develop a curriculum and build an institution that will help African children be who they are while they are learning.

“Learning doesn’t have to change who you are,” she adds.

Masungu explains that the idea of summiting the mountain is also to inspire an African child “to say we know there are limitations but there is no mountain that is too high”.

You can reach greater heights.

“So whatever limitations there are, you can overcome them and reach any height that you want to go,” she explains.

The 40 for 40 initiative will also celebrate South African stalwart Robert Sobukwe, founder of the Pan Africanist Congress, as this year marks 40 years since his death. “Robert Sobukwe stood for education that services Africa, so it is only fit to celebrate him.

Video by Amanda Maliba

“Some of the other initiatives will be rolled out in time as I continue to raise the funds, because this school will happen no matter what,” she adds.

Masunga will also be back on the small screen soon but says that is for people to see later in the year.

She leave on Saturday from the OR Tambo international airport with a group of friends.


The Sunday Independent