Adulthood and the myth of Independence


MR EDDIE NDOPU is a black, queer, feminist Disability Activist. He is also a thinker and an uncontested, self-identifying genius. His intellectual muscle and determination to open up the world to all non-binary people has landed him a scholarship to Oxford University, making him the first disabled African to be accepted into the institution. But there’s a catch, his scholarship doesn’t cover the significant additional costs associated with his disability. Click the link below this piece to see how you can donate and help him make his Oxford dream come true. In the meantime, he has something to say about the myth of Adulthood.    

Adulthood: the myth of independence – the uncritical glorification of existing within the world…unaided. An individual.

Congratulations.  You are an adult. But your adulthood is constructed on one of humanity’s greatest lies. That we are independent. That your existence boils down to you. It doesn’t. The world is constructed to make it seem as though able-bodied people are independent. This thing to which we attach tremendous value, a definition for adulthood, is in fact nothing more than a farce.  A fallacy.

I’m disabled. And for this reason, adulthood remains elusive because I am dependent on others for my survival.  My dependence on the world, as it were, disqualifies me from adulthood. Whenever I insist on being recognised as an adult I am asked to demonstrate greater independence. Often, even disabled people buy into this logic, mistakenly referring to our collective pursuit of dignity as the independent living movement.  What I know to be true, what so many of us know to be true, is that able-bodied people fail to recognise that their bodies, as so-called able-bodied people, disappear into the background of the built environment, making it look like they are independent.

Able-bodied people fail to recognise that their bodies, as so-called able-bodied people, disappear into the background of the built environment, making it look like they are independent.

The ground you walk on, the noise of traffic blaring in your ears, the stranger winking at you in the club – hungry, desperate, for your body. Your ability to sign contracts, how your car seat conforms to the curve on your body…are all examples of the ways in which your body is carried – held tightly to make it look as if you are the one doing all the work, when in fact, you’re just a beneficiary of able-bodied supremacy.

We need to construct the world differently. Disability is an offering to humanity to rethink what it means to move, to love, to think, to be human.

I’m the guy on wheels who refuses to rest until every single disabled person in the world, until every single beautifully black and brown disabled soul, gets a fighting chance at living their best lives. I participate in board meetings, despite being automatically seen as the face of a charity drive.  I go clubbing, despite being treated as un-fuckable by the gorgeous bodies assembled on the dance floor.  I employ people to work for me, despite having strangers praise them for being “noble”. As i go to Oxford, I will not be made to stay because the world isn’t ready for my existence and brilliance. This is the access gap. Having access, while at the same time, not having access at all.

This is because we must be here on our own terms. We will continue to be here, breathing.  We are attempting to live our best lives, pushing upstream, against the tide. Breath with me. All we have is one another. Inter-dependence. And that is the truth.

Donate, join the movement to create a world open to all. You’ve just been Eddiecated.

Donate on the link above and help Eddie make the Oxford dream a reality for himself, as well as those who will come after him. Follow his journey to Oxford on social media: #OxfordEddiecated. 

Image by Mr Siyabonga Mkhasibe

Film by Ms. Nadine Kutu


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