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Home » News » Features » ‘I’m Deaf and Bright’

‘I’m Deaf and Bright’

Publishing Date : 07 October, 2015

Author : JUSTICE MOTLHABANI

Mr Bayengi Mokiya , a native of Marapong is deaf, he can’t speak or hear, although he cannot use any spoken language, he is mentally alert very charismatic, funny, a ‘talkative’ and very bright young man who is well know as a sign language instructor at Botswana Society for the Deaf.  

As Botswana commemorates the International Deaf Awareness week, he says he wishes there was “more awareness for people like you to know about us”. He says he wants the deaf sign language and deaf culture to be better understood.

“I need your help to spread the word that Deaf people are not any different from everyone. The deaf are the same as the non-deaf people, the difference is only that we the deaf use hands to communicate while the non- deaf use their speech,” he explains.

He further makes it clear that while they communicate by means of body language and signs, they are very much alive to what is going on in their environment and have their own values and believes which they call deaf culture, he says this culture needs to be better understood by everyone “deaf culture includes characteristics of the deaf, as well as commonalities and obstacles they face, things like their activities, their mode of sign language and the set of social beliefs, behaviors, art, literary traditional, history, values, and shared institution of communities that are influenced by deafness and which use sign language as the main means of communication” he  writes.

Raised in Francistown, Bayengi suffered a catastrophic accident when he was very young which lead to him losing his speech and hearing ability.  However this has not deterred him from living a normal life and having big dreams “I studied computers and ICT at Gaborone Institute of Professional Studies (GIPS) at its Francistown Campus. I did well in computers when I was there. I will join Botho University soon to study Diploma in computer studies,” he says.

He said his mother passed away in 2000 when he was still very young and since then he has lived with his aunt “we were staying in Donga Francistown with my aunt for most of my life. She is good and always supports me. My aunt, her name is Mrs Florence Moses, I love Florence Moses,” he says.

He says the government can help the deaf through gainful work “like having some deaf worker in Government office since some of deaf have knowledge on use of computers they can play a good role.

They can also work with the non deaf people. Some deaf people have better understanding points on English therefore those deaf can also enroll as public workers or as a government employee” he points out. He says he wants to own a company with the sole aim of helping the deaf with educational problems they face.

“I need help to register a sign language institute so that I can help spread deaf education and get more people to understand the deaf, their language and deaf culture” He says. According to Ms Lorato Marope, the Public Relations Officer for  the Botswana Society for the Deaf,  the society  commemorated the International Deaf Awareness Week under the theme; “Enough said but none heard”. 

She said the deaf community all over Botswana gathered to show unity to the rest of the world and to spread messages of the success and the rights of the deaf people around Botswana and the rest of the world.  

This year the International Deaf Awareness Week celebrations were held at the Maun Stadium where the former President of Botswana and Patron of Botswana Society for the Deaf, Mr Festus Gontebanye Mogae graced the event and gave a key note address.

The week was also commemorated through various activities such as a march, ball sports, sign language and deaf culture lessons, exhibitions and a beauty pageant by deaf participants.

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