Reader profile - The sweet sounds of life
The Sweet Sounds of Life
In 2008, 25 year old Luka Sparkes (AKA Anthony Kasirivu) was in his third year of a marketing degree at the University of Johannesburg and playing rugby for his residence's 1st team. "Our coaches at Varsity often spoke of potential rugby injuries and how to play safe, but they also didn't want to scare us away!!" he quips as he remembers back to his playing days.
On the 28thJuly they were playing against Dromedaris, one of the rival teams in the league. Luka, playing hooker, went into a scrum and in a freak accident the scrum collapsed sideways on the players and he was severely injured at the C5/C6level. "When I got to the Milpark Hospital they didn't even know how I was still able to breathe", he says. But working diligently and effectively, the doctors were able to fuse the C5 and C6 vertebra to stabilise his spine.
He stayed on at Milpark for another three weeks before being moved to Netcare in Auckland Parkfor rehab, where he stayed for almost a year. Relaying the experience, Lukaexplains his feelings, "They did everything they could and the physio really helped! I wouldn't be able to do what I can do now without the physio. That recovered some arm movement even though I still have typical quad hands", he smiles. "My family would come through for weekends from our home in Mafikeng, and sleep at my Aunt's place. When I got back to Mafikeng after rehab they were great, they didn't put any pressure on me and I actually got to chill out for a while."
He was still at Milpark when Gail Ross, from the Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Players Fund first cameto visit him and explained that she and her team would be there for him and beable to help out.
"Gail came to visitme quite often. When a wheelchair supplier came and measured me for a wheelchair, Gail offered to pay for it from the Fund. She asked me if I wanted an electric or manual chair but I chose manual. If I decided on the use of an electric chair I wouldn't use my arms as much as I do and if you don't use ityou lose it! I chose the more difficult option but I know I will benefit in thelong run." They also gave him a standing frame, which he uses at home to get hisblood flowing and keep his bones strong.
Wanting to keep himself busy, Luka ventured into the field of music production. "I used to DJ before the accident, but I had never considered music production. Now, as headof the label We Go Deep, I create and remix music working with vocalists like MzJay, Maya Spector and Janine V."
In 2011 Luka decided to finish his studies at the University of North West. "They have been very good to me and even put a ramp in the parking lot so that I can get onto campus. The lecture halls are all accessible and when it comes to exams there is a disability unit on campus where the University provides a scribe for me. It's going well and I am passing, better than I was before actually."
Before the accident,he admits that he had many distractions but that now he is ultra focused; although, I can't help but wonder about a possible romance in the future. "I'm single at the moment and I want to concentrate on making a career for myself and being financially independent. Once that happens I will have time to let someone closer to me," he says.
"Thanks to Victor Mbeleand Marina Deneys, Chemserv have sponsored me an automated bike and all of my studio equipment. I was at UJ with Deneys' son, Paul, and Chemserv took me on as part of their Social Responsibility Programme. The Chris Burger /PetroJackson Fund also provided a Universal Audio Device which enables me to master my music through providing high quality sound.
"I am so grateful. I would not be as far in my music career as I am if not for the wonderful people at Chemserv, my friend Paul, and all of the wonderful South Africans who donateto the Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Players Fund."
"No matter what life throws at you - you gotta keep living."