Edward Ndopu | A dis/abled, queer, Afro-politan activist, writer and community organizer
Edward Ndopu is the founder of Global Strategies on Inclusive Education (GSIE) and is an advocate for children living with disabilities. Described as a social critic, anti-oppression practitioner, consultant, writer, and scholar, he is also a regular on the international conference circuit.
The Essence of Global Strategy for Inclusive Education | Global Strategy for Inclusive Education was really born out of my own lived experience as a young person living with a disability… And the school that I was attending had various leadership and entrepreneurship components that allowed me to sort of start my own venture together with a team of really committed young people who really affected, for the first time, appreciation for the value of inclusive education. And so I got together with this group of really dynamic young colleagues and we came up with the Global Strategy on Inclusive Education and that’s really looking at how we, as young people, could mobilize ourselves and really encourage policy-makers and decision-makers to make inclusive education part and parcel of regional, national and global agendas.
The Major Issues | The more I sort of immersed myself in my activism, I realized that disability cannot be looked at in isolation. That people with disabilities are impacted not just by an education system that is not inclusive but also access to – or the lack of access to – information and the lack of access to social goods and services, basic health care…
Who Inspires Me | My mum has been a source of strength and conviction and inspiration to me and really I am where I am today because of the work that she has done. And I remain eternally grateful for that…. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for my mother as a single parent to bring up a child with a degenerative condition.
A Different View on Age | I’m getting weaker as I get older and that’s just what it is. It’s a fact of my physical condition, so there’s a sense of urgency at the back of my mind always. Whenever I’m doing something I try and do as much as I can now. And you know, I’ve had to step back and sort of validate the things that I’ve been able to accomplish at my age. Yeah, I’m 21 years old, but for me, that means something a lot different than for somebody who’s healthy. You know, I recognize that there’s just so much more that I need to achieve and I’m hell-bent on achieving that.
Achieving Success | It definitely depends on your location. You know, where you are, your socio-economic location and what resources and opportunities you have. Those go a long way in being able to facilitate success. Success is never achieved by an individual. There’s a whole collective production of machinery behind you that’s keeping you going.
Principles I Live By | I think it’s important to just sort of ground oneself in something that’s a lot more, that’s sort of beyond happiness. I think that happiness can come out of so many different moments and so for me I try to ground myself in something a lot deeper. What drives me is possibility… my guiding force and my mantra [is] that anything that is impossible is simply the untried.
The Meaning of Life | I’m quoting my favourite author… who said this in the talk that, I think our job as human beings is really to become alive in bodies not our own. I think it really is about empathy and compassion for one another. I think that we are here for one another. I do not believe that we are here just for ourselves. Beyond that, I think that consciousness is very important. And I think that our role as human beings is to evolve consciousness and to become more conscious about the universe and about how our reality is understood and interpreted.
Watch Edward tell his story