‘No time to feel sorry for myself’ – Inspirig Lifes

“I’ve so much work to do — to study, do my assignments and read… Life is too hectic for me to sit down and think about what I don’t have. Just no time to regret, man,” says Radebe Samkelo.
The positive attitude of this 20-year-old South African high jumper and law student is heart-warming given that he lost both hands when he was 9.
Samkelo, here for the world paralympics meet at the Kanteerava Stadium, recalls that terrible day in a Johannesburg colony. “My friends and I were playing near my home when an electric wire fell on me. I was knocked out and opened my eyes couple of days later in the ICU. I couldn’t move an inch. I couldn’t see or feel a thing.”
He goes on: “The doctors said both hands had to be amputated, else I wouldn’t live as the disease would travel all over my body. It was my hands or my life — I chose life.”
Samkelo came to terms with it quickly: “It affected my parents more than me. I told myself that I’d saved my life by giving up my hands. It was this realization and acceptance that helped me.”
He stayed home for almost nine months, with hospital visits every now and then.
Later, he went back to school again and took up athletics, with high jump a favourite event.
“My friends looked after me well in school and gave me the strength to explore options. I told myself I wouldn’t feel ashamed and do what I liked — study and athletics.”
Samkelo is currently a second-year law student at the University of Johannesburg and also earned the right to represent South Africa at these games.
So, what his daily routine? “I go to the gym in the morning, then to class and for the running sessions. Weekends, I study and do my assignments. I did things by trial and error, learnt all things by myself. I cook, I clean and I drive. I even have a licence.” He drives a manual-geared car, his dad’s Toyota Corolla, and an Opel Astra.
Samkelo listens to House music, Kwaito – township music, gospel, R & B, hip hop and of course Akon. He loves horror movies, comedies and soccer. “Live life to the fullest — it’s not about what you have or don’t have in life, but what you do.”
He goes on: “I’ve never been depressed or disappointed. I rather appreciate life better now and make the best of it. I make sure I’m happy at the end of the day, every day. ‘Just do it’ is my way of looking at things.”

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