Musa Motha lost his leg to bone most cancers. Now the South African dancer is inspiring with just about every shift

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Created by Michelle Cohan, CNN

Expanding up in an underdeveloped zone of Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, South Africa, Musa Motha states his surroundings weren’t precisely 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 area provides back equally excellent and negative recollections for Motha. Soccer was his favorite activity, and he fondly remembers the moments he played for the community youth workforce.

But a person sport, when he was just 10 decades old, would change everything.

“We have been playing (a) tournament and I got injured on my still left knee — somebody kicked me, and I fell. Ever since that working day, I was in soreness,” Motha stated.

He recalled many sleepless evenings in agonizing suffering. Inevitably his mother took him to the local hospital, and from there he’d go to quite a few much more. “The doctors assessed my leg and they could not locate anything at all. There were no fractures in it,” he said. “They were being annoyed — ‘what is this,’ you know, ‘what’s going on?'”

Musa Motha visitng the soccer pitch wherever he utilized to play. Credit score: Bruce Buttery

Eventually a bone marrow biopsy revealed Motha experienced osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in his remaining leg. While his soccer injuries was not the bring about, it did draw focus to the presently-present most cancers.

He reported the initially round of chemotherapy therapy did not operate, and Motha’s physician informed his mother and father that they’d want to amputate his leg.

“They did not take it well,” Motha remembered, and neither did he. “I am a small boy, I signify, shedding your leg? I am like nah, it truly is not heading to come about,” he stated.

They did not move forward with the amputation, but as time went by, Motha bought even worse. “I could not even stand up,” he recalled. “So, it was a subject of it truly is either amputation or I die.”

He chose the amputation and ever due to the fact that working day, he decided he was going to strategy lifetime in a different way — extra positively, he mentioned.

Developing room on the dance floor

Correct to his word, Motha, now 26, can be noticed twirling across phases all around the environment. He very first encountered dance at a neighborhood bash, exactly where he mustered the bravery to check with a pal to teach him some modified moves. “Tthen I (danced) the complete evening,” he recalled.

The following day he joined a road dance staff. Every single Sunday, they would contend with other groups in an open-air phase in the city centre.

His talents did not go unnoticed he began showing up in South African Tv advertisements and reveals. He even appeared in Drake’s “One Dance” audio movie.

Motha was inspired to expand his skills to modern 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 seriously experienced to get to outside the house his convenience zone and generate a new mindset all over dancing with a disability.

“Gregory was like ‘feet to start with parallel,’ and I’m like ‘I’m not gonna move my leg for the reason that I only have just one,'” he reported. “Which is when I was like ok let us do the job on how (I am heading) to do it.”

Dancing with disabilities

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

“There are not numerous firms or education programs that cater for folks with disabilities, in particular in the dance area,” McKenzie reported. “I’ve experienced pretty a few ordeals whereby you’d be in a course with distinctive bodies and some facilitators would not know what to do (with us), and so for those people good reasons, they you should not open up these areas to various artists.”

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

Motha undertaking in a production with Vuyani Dance Theater in 2018. Credit rating: Medical professional Moyo

Outside of absence of accessibility, McKenzie, who’s been dancing for 15 decades, claimed inclusion is one more barrier for men and women with disabilities.

“There are quite handful of folks especially in South Africa that really have tasks whereby they contain dancers with disabilities,” she added. “It truly is anything that is continue to extremely difficult, but it’s slowly — quite, incredibly little by little — starting to modify.”

Seeing a gap in the sector, McKenzie co-founded Unmute in 2013, an inclusive dance corporation in Cape City that enlists younger South Africans with disabilities to get involved in the arts.

“It’s been particularly fulfilling in the feeling that we’ve been equipped to develop far more platforms for artists to teach and execute, and also expose additional young folks,” she said.

McKenzie thinks Unmute is serving to crack down some of these boundaries by way of recognition strategies — not just for people with disabilities to signal up, but also for capable-bodied persons to study how to function 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 mom was paramount to his success: “The aspect I took from her is that we will not give up in this home.” Credit: Liezl Zwarts

Gerard Samuel, a professor of dance at the University of Cape Town, has written extensively on the invisibility of dancers with disabilities. He told CNN that even though there has been some progress in each entry and inclusion inside of dance, there is nevertheless significantly function to be performed.

“Obstacles involve mindsets of limitation and incapability of disabled persons and mythology and taboos that surrounds them,” he explained. “All this still want to modify.”

He believes that education, expenditure and far more representation in the media would help foster extra accessibility and inclusivity.

Finding his groove

Without having an illustration he could convert to, Motha struggled with figuring out how to dance in modern parts with two crutches. A great deal of it was only adapting and modifying, he stated.

“I finally uncovered the procedure of (dropping) a single crutch and then using (the other) one particular as a leg and an arm at the very same time,” he included.

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

Motha claims he would like to “instill positivity” and assistance individuals with disabilities reach their desires. Credit: Physician Moyo

He’s also experienced some assistance along the way. “We are in a place wherever we can find out so significantly from folks residing with disabilities,” mentioned Gladys Agulhas, a dance instructor who will work with men and women with disabilities, which include Motha. “It really is time now that we have to merge and figure out and regard who we are as people today. It’s everybody’s right to be where by they want to be.”

Samuel agrees that illustration wants to lengthen past the doing arts. “The additional we can see the disabled particular person in various factors of lifestyle, be it as helicopter pilots, engineers, chefs, choreographers and professors … the better hope we can hold on to for a society where no one particular is on the margins,” he explained.

That’s Motha’s aspiration as effectively. While he advised CNN dance gave him “a purpose,” he additional “I really don’t want to see myself as a dancer only.”

He desires to generate a room for other individuals with disabilities to go outside their consolation zone — from soccer to singing. He feels that bigger representation will beget bigger obtain and inclusion throughout the board, paving the way for people today with disabilities to shine.

“Alternatively of telling a sob tale, I uncover that the most wonderful tales are after (the amputation),” Motha stated. He encourages some others with disabilities that they, far too, can do anything at all: “There is certainly a whole good deal of factors that you can defeat that truly define how powerful you are.”

Enjoy the whole episode of African Voices Changemakers featuring Motha’s story below.