Cover Stories - Lango Sinkamba lives life without limits
Lango Sinkamba (46), a native from Zambia, is a man who loves life and lives with the passion of helping others. At the young age of four, he lost the full use of both his legs as the result of contracting polio.
“Getting around without a wheelchair was difficult, I mostly crawled to get where I wanted to be. Maybe being so young made it slightly easier. Getting to school was the hardest.”
Today, Lango is a wheelchair user with vast knowledge and expertise in Disability Sport and Recreation, Disability and Development, Research and Entrepreneurship.
“Unfortunately I started using a wheelchair at a very late stage of my disability.”
Only when Lango started secondary school, he received his first wheelchair.
“I’ve used about six types of wheelchairs in my life. I went to an ordinary secondary school, but later had to transfer to a school for kids with special needs. There I tested the waters, but it was still hard, because I only had access to a wheelchair at school; when school closed, the chair had to stay behind.”
Lango became involved in disabled sports at an early age, organising wheelchair races while in secondary school. He is a Zambian former athlete who specialised in the wheelchair marathon. As a wheelchair athlete, he represented Zambia on two occasions at the Paralympic Games, and was his country’s first Paralympian. He subsequently became President of Zambia’s National Paralympic Committee and has been active in raising the profile of disabled sports in his country. Lango is also an Athlete Ambassador for the international humanitarian organisation Right to Play.
He drew attention to a lack of government financial and material support for Zambian sportspeople with disabilities. Noting the lack of a clear government policy in promoting and facilitating disabled sports, he urged support also from businesses and from the media. His own efforts took the form of participating in a variety of sports committees to speak up for disabled sports.
With his enormous experience, Lango says he certainly understands the wheelchair business very well.
Amid an energetic, yet relaxed vibe, Lango discloses during our interview that in most African countries, people do not understand wheelchairs.
“We have practitioners, we have suppliers, we have users, we have donors, and we have charities, so mostly people with disabilities are serviced through charitable organisations. It is only lately that we’ve seen the participation of governments.”
According to Lango, what one needs to understand about wheelchairs is that there are many different kinds. “There are clinical wheelchairs, active wheelchairs, electrical chairs for the severely disabled and so much more. Each disability has a specific wheelchair.”
“It is critical before a wheelchair is given to a person that the individual is assessed. Governments must meet the need of the disabled person. It’s essential that the wheelchair is the right size! It’s the best gift you can give a person, it is not simply a chair.”
Lango continues to explain that governments are assisting with good faith, but “the problem is that they are not consulting with users. People want to do good things for us, they don’t want to engage us. Having the right wheelchair gives one the opportunity to be independent.”
He smiles when describing that his wheelchair is certainly unique.
“My wheelchair is so comfortable. It’s light, durable, and very easy to maintain. My wheelchair is not restrictive and I am able to go anywhere - I can even ‘climb’ up and down stairs!”
As a passionate Good Samaritan, the Zambian national says he undoubtedly wants to do something big for Zambia - “something that can be a showpiece for the whole southern region in my country. No country should lack behind in provisional services for people with disabilities, people should live their life to the fullest. People with disabilities can contribute to the development of their countries, but they must be provided with proper facilities, proper chairs, and proper limbs.”
Lango is happily married to his beautiful wife, Joyce. With an Accounting degree from Zambia Institute of Management, he is Chief Executive Officer of Tundwe Business Solutions Ltd., which deals with computer repairs, software, and office supplies.
For fun, Lango enjoys playing wheelchair basketball, cooking and traveling. He also loves photography.
Because of his uniqueness, he is able to touch the lives of many. Lango’s message to other wheelchair users is, “They should demand the right wheelchair, durable wheelchair, chair that uplifts their status, a wheelchair that enables them to move without restrictions, a chair that’s affordable. Don’t just accept any wheelchair. Demand an assessment, because the wrong wheelchair makes you modest. The wheelchair you use, predicts your future!”