November is known across the world as Men’s Health Awareness Month. This commemoration is dedicated to bringing awareness to a wide range of Men’s health issues. As we focus on Men this month, we cannot ignore the discrimination that is suffered by men with health problems and disabilities.
Kudakwashe Dobba, a Film writer, director and producer with a disability has narrated his upbringing, stereotype, challenges and the motivation he has encountered in the film industry as a man with a physical deformity.
Kuda was born in 1985 in Gweru. He says the night he was born, so many unfortunate things happened that changed his life, and almost resulted in his death.
“The foreign doctor on duty that night ignored my mother who was in pain despite numerous pleas from other medical stuff. By the time he chose to respect his work, my mother was already struggling to breathe because I was struggling to breathe as well.
This led to an emergency operation and I was placed in an incubator for six weeks and I survived. My parents believed this was a miracle, the will of God hence the name Kudakwashe [God’s Will].”
Due to the unfortunate incident, Kuda suffered lack of Oxygen to the brain and this resulted in him getting Cerebral Palsy, a condition that he has lived with his whole life. He says that having a disability in the film industry has presented him with so many challenges such as discrimination, and not being taken seriously.
“Just like most fields, having a disability means one has to prove capability before he can be taken seriously. obviously, all have to prove they can but when having a disability – one has to come up with something that overlooks the physical advantages of other competitors.
I sent a film proposal to a certain TV Channel which quickly responded positively and wanted my film to be a daily show. When I went to them to sign a contract and they came face to face with the reality. They said that they wanted to re-do the contract and never came back.”
Despite these challenges, Kudakwashe has gone to write and direct a number of films and music videos in Zimbabwe. One of his short films is called Destiny in Crisis. He was also the Head Scriptwriter for the famous ‘Small House Saga’ which aired on ZTV.
Kudakwashe has also directed music videos, including those of the fellow artists with disabilities such as Prudence Mabhena’s. Currently he is working under Doc Entertainment where they do projects with National Aids Council.
In his address, Kuda said that his disability has however provided him with an advantage that he takes his time to perfect his project without rushing since he is slow.
“Being slow [my disability] in writing and editing gives me the chance to do things perfectly, a perfect job.”