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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tribute to Wenzu Dalli - disability activist (and more) Part 4 [FINALE]

Eventually, Wenzu was appointed the first president of the Maltese Council of Disabled Persons (MCoDP) – the first local organisation run and maintained by disabled people in Malta. As his successor, believe me it’s tough to be in his shoes. Not just because they would probably fall off but because he was a wonderful person and a leader in his own right.

Back to last Thursday's celebration ...

Ah ... I remember all the speeches delivered by distinguished guests - the President of Malta Edward Fenech Adami, and the Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Mercieca. And the words of his close friends - including the current chair of the National Commission Persons with Disability Joseph Camilleri, as well as the former parish priest of Hal Ghaxaq who became good friends with Wenzu - Fr Martin Micallef. These last two said a lot about who Wenzu was and what he strove for.

Of course, I cannot fail to mention the fireworks and the great ceremony held at Hal Ghaxaq's parish and at the town square - not to mention the abundant food served during the reception (yum!). Indeed, I feel I must thank the Wenzu Dalli Commission for erecting the bust in Wenzu's honour at the centre of Hal Ghaxaq. The festivities and the warm welcome we received from the people of Hal Ghaxaq was remarkable. Truly, we should remember this man.

But it would be a pity if we forget him as a real person. As his friends, we were lucky enough to know him for who he was. Indeed, it would go against what he believed in if for others Wenzu remained nothing more than an icon – “Wenzu, the blind man” – a person only identified by his blindness. Whilst it’s undeniable that his blindness affected the course of his life, as our impairments often do, it goes against all that Wenzu had fought for and sought to achieve if we reduce all his life was about to a fight against his impairment - because it really wasn't!

For Wenzu, like us, wasn’t a saint or a super human figure. He was a man who was unjustly treated in his youth because of his impairments. However, instead of sulking and closing himself to the world and others, he took action. And yet, this doesn’t make him braver or greater than others, but accentuates his humanity and his determination to redress the injustices perpetuated against him. However, he knew that he couldn’t afford to put himself apart from others because at the end of the day, he knew that we all need each other.

This is what Wenzu is all about. He’s not about a man who ‘overcame his blindness’. It is about a man who recognised that if all society worked together then, truly, there will be a more inclusive society. Only then can disabled people be included as valued human beings. That is what Wenzu taught me - the responsibility for change rests with all of us. And that we should celebrate our differences and who we are. At least, that is what Wenzu taught me...

Yes, we miss you Wenzu!