Ekhaya – SA’s Home Away From Home

It is not every day that an opportunity such as this arises: the chance to travel to the Paralympics to support the SA Paralympics Team and experience the amazing experience that any major global sporting event is. I’m in London as part of the “supporter wave” invited by Mercedes Benz who are one of the sponsors of the South African team having arrived yesterday morning early.

Last week, I attended the farewell function for the team at the Sandton Convention Centre and was struck, once again, by how amazingly resilient we as human beings can be. Athletes achieve sometime unimaginable feats; those who do so against the backdrop of tragedy, loss of limb, cerebral palsy, blindness, etc leave me in even greater awe. Every individual is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit and our inherent ‘goodness’.

Both at the function and in the last 24 hours, I’ve been privileged to hear the multitude of stories of positivity, strength, achievement and hope and I’m looking forward to experiencing some of it first hand when the Games start in earnest.

Yesterday evening, Ekhaya – South Africa’s Home Away From Home in London – was opened for the Paralympics 2012 at a joyous occasion attended by the SA High Commissioner to the UK, Dr Zola Skweyiya, some members of the SA Paralympics Team and South Africans based in the UK. A surprise performance from Ringo Madlingozi got everyone wonderfully in the spirit followed by a typical traditional SA lunch (braaied meat, morogo, chakalaka, etc) on the rooftop of the Southpark Centre. The DJ was in fine spirit filling the impromptu dance floor with a musical journey that ranged from Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse’s Burn Out through to Brenda Fassie, Mafikizolo, etc. Some of the moves pulled by the guys in wheelchairs were poetic.

A fitting celebration of the over 60 South African athletes who will be led out by flag-bearer Oscar Pistorious at the Opening Ceremony, each of whom deserves to be commended for the exceptional ability. I sincerely believe the Paralympics are a celebration of every single athlete who goes out into the field of play and the many more who are working towards it or have previously contributed to it, as well as every single person and organisation that has added to the experience.

 

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