We Have a Right to Lead
Menase Ntutu (Maasai) from Kenya is a member of the Disability Caucus and the Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network.
I am here representing the Indigenous community living with disability, and also I’ve been invited because I am a member of the Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network. I am sponsored by International Disability Alliance (IDA). I share experience with many people coming from different parts of the world, so it was a good interaction for me to meet different kinds of people living with disability. What I learned here is to share experience; there’s different people living as you travel to each and every country, there are so many things different. But in Africa, people living with disability are suffering through discrimination. Especially in my community, where you have disability, they see [you] maybe [as the cost] of an institute, limited resources, access to education, health, and also walking.
We are suffering the same common things with other disabled people around the world. We are suffering with poverty, and also policies of the governments are different in Africa. In Kenya, only recently (in 2010) we got a new constitution. And the disabled people, especially Indigenous, they don’t get this information when the policies are passed in the government, we don’t get this information early because of networking. Nobody is taking care of the disabled. They live with their family. And here I can see, according to [what I have shared] with other members, this support comes from where we share donors and people suffer. Nobody donates to us; we expect to get donors from other countries. This is what we see, and this is why many of us are not able to do anything. So to come to us at a forum, it is historic from my country. And I am the first person to be here representing—as you can see I’m not sponsored by Kenya, I am sponsored by IDA and Indigenous Global Network. I have big information to take back to Africa.
We need to not be left behind because we have a right to lead, a right to an education, we have a right for everything. What information I would like to share with the world is that people with disabilities are human. We need to support them, we need support. Any person with a disability is no different than a person without disability. It’s not an ability. They can do anything, they can walk, I can share with other people. So, we need persons with disabilities to be supported and to be included in everything. I would just like to say to the United Nations, we need real support, especially in conflict countries. Those who have never joined us, support us, and especially give us jobs so we can work for ourselves, and we can also do. As an Indigenous person, I love my culture—that’s the first thing. And as Indigenous people we are resourceful. In many countries Indigenous persons must remain as those who are owning the resources diligently. If the government wants to build something then they have to come to us. As Indigenous people, we also need respect.