The popular axiom: “Disability is not inability” best fits Lebohang Monyatsi from South Africa.
She is a physically challenged person, but will not allow her situation to limit her. Monyatsi has an inspirational story. She is the first African woman in a wheelchair to be a runway model.
Right from her tender age, Monyatsi had always wanted to be a model but according to her, there were no opportunities for persons with disabilities in the entertainment industry.
Born and raised by her unemployed grandmother in the North West Province in a small town known as Vryburg, Monyatsi was diagnosed with Poliomyelitis which affected her so much and delayed her education.
Tragically, she lost two motherly figures in her life at her teenage – her mother and High School teacher – whom she described as her best friend.
She lived mostly in a boarding school and had to be dependent on a wheelchair for mobility since the age of three.
Monyatsi was so poised not to allow her situation to limit her. Whilst she was a student at the North-West University, Mafikeng studying Social Psychology, she showed a strong ability in sport which earned her a spot in South Africa’s wheelchair basketball team.
She was part of the team that played in a qualification tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico but unfortunately the team could not make it in the 2012 Paralympics games held in London.
However, Monyatsi was reportedly named best shooter of her team and now plays for both provincial and national wheelchair basketball teams. “I don’t see myself not playing basketball, I love it,” she said.
Through the Only One Foundation, an organization paving way for persons with disability to get a space in the fashion industry, Monyatsi, also known as ‘Rolling Goddess’ became a finalist for Face of The Globe and was chosen to represent South Africa in 2017.
The Face of the Globe is a worldwide confidence building program and competition for young women of all ages with a focus on volunteerism and raising funds for charity. Monyatsi was the only finalist in the competition with a disability.
She went on to represent her country in October 2017 in Warsaw, Poland at the Miss Wheelchair World, the first contest of its kind which featured 24 young women from 19 countries.
The competition was held in Poland and Monyatsi made a record for South Africa and also made history as she emerged the “First Princess”.
Although her home country has not done much to support her or celebrate her accomplishment, she says she wants people to know that disabled persons have other abilities beyond sports and office jobs.