Eddie Ndopu describes himself as “unapologetically brilliant, black, queer and disabled” and also as, “a living manifestation of possibility”.
This 27 year -old South African campaigner for disabled people’s rights is determined to create a world that is truly open to all, and Eddie has been breaking, or at least bending, the rules since his birth. Now, he has set his sights on being the first wheelchair user in space.
Edward was born with spinal muscular atrophy and was not expected to live past the age of five. The degenerative condition which is making his muscles weaker every day means that he needs assistance with all of his daily activities. In spite of that, he is currently setting up an NGO to provide disabled people in South Africa with access to better and safer spaces. Most disabled South Africans never even complete basic education, but Eddie’s own perseverance and determination have let him achieve things that most disabled people could not even dream of.
His mother worked tirelessly to make sure that he had the same opportunities as his able-bodied counterparts. Thanks to her force, Eddie won himself a place to study at Oxford University. He became the first African with a degenerative disability to graduate from the prestigious university.
Now, he wants to be the first wheelchair user in space. His plan is partly to honour the memory of Steven Hawkins and partly to raise awareness of the capacity of disabled people. Also, he has always felt a great affinity with space, and he hopes that discoveries made during gravity-free travel might discover ways to aid people with degenerative disabilities. Finally, he wants to show to all disabled people that with effort everything is possible.
Find out more about Eddies dreams to be the first wheelchair user in space here.