12 October 2018

Africa: Karmzah, the Superheroine With Cerebral Palsy

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World Cerebral Palsy Day is observed every year on 6 October. Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that is the largest cause of childhood disability. To remedy the lack of disability representation, Farida Bedwei launched "Karmzah!", a comic book that features a heroine with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by damage that occurs to the immature, developing brain. It is the largest cause of disability in children. Cerebral palsy's effect on functional abilities varies greatly: Some people can walk while others cannot; some show normal or near-normal intellectual capacity while others may have intellectual disabilities.

Cerebral Palsy Day on 6 October celebrates the more than 17 million people living with cerebral palsy globally. According to the campaign's website, through World Cerebral Palsy Day, people living with cerebral palsy and their allies can band together to share resources, energy and knowledge to close the gap between the everyday circumstance and the real potential of people living with cerebral palsy. The day also aims to create cultural change so that everyone embraces people with cerebral palsy, ending ignorance and stigma. "We will tell the world: I am here. We are here," the slogan stresses.

Changing Perceptions

One of the people proactively attempting to change the perceptions of society is Ghanaian IT entrepreneur Farida Bedwei. As a person living with cerebral palsy, Bedwai understands the need for representation, especially for children, and decided to improve the situation by creating a comic book heroine with cerebral palsy, named Karmzah.

"Karmzah sounds like the name of a no-nonsense warrior who defeats bad guys. Sure, she has cerebral palsy and walks with crutches, but she still fights and does superhero stunts with those crutches," Bedwei is quoted as saying by Africa News.

Karmzah is a superhero whose walking aids empower her to fight, run, fly and save the day.

Read: Malawian school children with disability struggle to access drinking water and toilets

"Children are easily molded and can be influenced quicker. That makes using comics a good medium for attracting children and the general public. If a child with cerebral palsy sees Karmzah, the child will grow up feeling proud of himself or herself, regardless of the walking aid or the wheelchair he or she uses," Bedwei explained to Ghana Business News.

Bedwei went on to explain that her intention was to make aids, such as wheelchairs, walking aids, hearing aids and so on, cool and make them appealing to the average child or teenager who has to use them.

About the Creator

Farida Bedwei is the co-founder and chief technical officer of the Ghanaian software company Logiciel, which develops technology solutions that promote financial inclusion for the unbanked.

"I love the fact that in the field of technology your work speaks for you. I could sit in the office and develop something good and nobody would know who was behind it. By the time others got to know who had developed that great product, I would already have proven myself, so they would not be able to discriminate against me," she said in an interview with Africa.com.

She has also worked with the Ghanaian government to re-brand the micro-finance industry with software she created, called "Gkudi".

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