Musa Motha lost his leg to bone cancer. Now the South African dancer is inspiring with every move

Musa Motha lost his leg to bone cancer. Now the South African dancer is inspiring with every move

Prepared by Michelle Cohan, CNN

Increasing up in an underdeveloped zone of Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, South Africa, Musa Motha claims his environment were not exactly idyllic. But he did have a dusty, make-change soccer pitch instantly throughout the road from his home. And for Motha, it was “paradise,” he explained.

That subject provides again both of those good and negative reminiscences for Motha. Soccer was his beloved activity, and he fondly remembers the times he played for the regional youth workforce.

But a person activity, when he was just 10 many years outdated, would transform almost everything.

“We were being actively playing (a) tournament and I got hurt on my still left knee — an individual kicked me, and I fell. Ever due to the fact that working day, I was in soreness,” Motha claimed.

He recalled quite a few sleepless evenings in agonizing discomfort. Finally his mother took him to the neighborhood hospital, and from there he’d go to numerous much more. “The medical doctors assessed my leg and they couldn’t come across just about anything. There have been no fractures in it,” he stated. “They had been frustrated — ‘what is this,’ you know, ‘what’s occurring?'”

Musa Motha visitng the soccer pitch where he used to play.

Musa Motha visitng the soccer pitch where by he utilized to participate in. Credit history: Bruce Buttery

Ultimately a bone marrow biopsy uncovered Motha had osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, in his still left leg. When his soccer injuries was not the lead to, it did draw consideration to the previously-current cancer.

He reported the first round of chemotherapy procedure did not do the job, and Motha’s physician educated his moms and dads that they’d will need to amputate his leg.

“They did not consider it properly,” Motha remembered, and neither did he. “I’m a minimal boy, I indicate, losing your leg? I’m like nah, it is not going to materialize,” he said.

They did not progress with the amputation, but as time went by, Motha acquired worse. “I could not even stand up,” he recalled. “So, it was a matter of it really is either amputation or I die.”

He chose the amputation and at any time because that working day, he decided he was going to approach lifetime in different ways — far more positively, he stated.

Creating area on the dance flooring

True to his word, Motha, now 26, can be noticed twirling across stages all-around the globe. He first encountered dance at a community social gathering, wherever he mustered the braveness to talk to a good friend to teach him some modified moves. “Tthen I (danced) the total evening,” he recalled.

The following day he joined a street dance team. Every single Sunday, they would compete with other teams in an open up-air phase in the town heart.

His abilities did not go unnoticed he began showing up in South African Tv adverts and reveals. He even appeared in Drake’s “One Dance” new music movie.

Motha was inspired to extend his skills to up to date dance, and in 2018 he auditioned for the Vuyani Dance Theatre, the brainchild of renowned choreographer Gregory Maqoma.

This was the to start with time Motha suggests he actually experienced to access exterior his consolation zone and generate a new frame of mind all over dancing with a incapacity.

“Gregory was like ‘feet very first parallel,’ and I’m like ‘I’m not gonna go my leg mainly because I only have 1,'” he said. “That’s when I was like alright let us operate on how (I’m going) to do it.”

Dancing with disabilities

Nadine Mckenzie, a wheelchair dancer in South Africa, explained that obtain is the major barrier for entry into the executing arts.

“There are not numerous companies or instruction applications that cater for folks with disabilities, primarily in the dance subject,” McKenzie stated. “I’ve had very a couple encounters whereby you would be in a class with distinctive bodies and some facilitators would not know what to do (with us), and so for those reasons, they will not open up these spaces to unique artists.”

Motha performing in a production with Vuyani Dance Theater in 2018.

Motha performing in a creation with Vuyani Dance Theater in 2018. Credit score: Doctor Moyo

Past deficiency of access, McKenzie, who’s been dancing for 15 years, claimed inclusion is a further barrier for folks with disabilities.

“There are quite couple of people in particular in South Africa that truly have projects whereby they entail dancers with disabilities,” she extra. “It is a little something which is still incredibly tough, but it can be bit by bit — really, quite little by little — starting up to improve.”

Viewing a gap in the sector, McKenzie co-established Unmute in 2013, an inclusive dance enterprise in Cape City that enlists younger South Africans with disabilities to get concerned in the arts.

“It really is been incredibly satisfying in the sense that we’ve been in a position to build a lot more platforms for artists to teach and complete, and also expose a lot more youthful individuals,” she reported.

McKenzie thinks Unmute is helping crack down some of these obstacles via consciousness campaigns — not just for persons with disabilities to indication up, but also for capable-bodied men and women to find out how to operate with them.

Motha says his mom was paramount to his success: "The part I took from her is that we don't give up in this house."

Motha claims his mother was paramount to his results: “The element I took from her is that we you should not give up in this house.” Credit: Liezl Zwarts

Gerard Samuel, a professor of dance at the University of Cape City, has penned extensively on the invisibility of dancers with disabilities. He informed CNN that while there has been some development in both of those entry and inclusion inside dance, there is even now significantly function to be completed.

“Obstacles consist of mindsets of limitation and lack of ability of disabled people and mythology and taboos that surrounds them,” he stated. “All this nonetheless want to alter.”

He believes that education, expenditure and extra illustration in the media would assist foster extra accessibility and inclusivity.

Locating his groove

Without having obtaining an case in point he could flip to, Motha struggled with figuring out how to dance in modern items with two crutches. A whole lot of it was simply adapting and adjusting, he stated.

“I finally discovered the technique of (dropping) just one crutch and then applying (the other) a person as a leg and an arm at the exact same time,” he included.

Motha says he wants to "instill positivity" and help people with disabilities achieve their dreams.

Motha suggests he would like to “instill positivity” and aid persons with disabilities reach their desires. Credit rating: Physician Moyo

He is also experienced some aid alongside the way. “We are in a location where by we can study so much from people dwelling with disabilities,” reported Gladys Agulhas, a dance instructor who operates with folks with disabilities, such as Motha. “It’s time now that we have to merge and figure out and regard who we are as people. It is really everybody’s appropriate to be where they want to be.”

Samuel agrees that representation requirements to extend beyond the carrying out arts. “The far more we can see the disabled man or woman in many facets of everyday living, be it as helicopter pilots, engineers, cooks, choreographers and professors … the higher hope we can maintain onto for a society where no 1 is on the margins,” he stated.

Which is Motha’s aspiration as perfectly. Nevertheless he instructed CNN dance gave him “a intent,” he additional “I will not want to see myself as a dancer only.”

He desires to develop a area for other individuals with disabilities to go outside the house their comfort zone — from soccer to singing. He feels that bigger illustration will beget better accessibility and inclusion across the board, paving the way for folks with disabilities to glow.

“Rather of telling a sob story, I come across that the most gorgeous stories are immediately after (the amputation),” Motha said. He encourages many others with disabilities that they, much too, can do nearly anything: “There is certainly a full great deal of items that you can triumph over that basically determine how potent you are.”

Look at the comprehensive episode of African Voices Changemakers featuring Motha’s story right here.