Story by Mercy Mugure.
From my first encounter with Palesa and Sefuthi I knew there was something unique about them. The bond between this Lesotho couple was so obvious that it could be felt from far. I had met them barely four days ago but could tell theirs is a deep love. One evening over dinner, I took out my notebook and paper and said to them, “You are such a wonderful couple, you need to tell the world your love story”.
And so here we are.
I met my husband and married him in 2010,” says Palesa Sefuthi giggling and adds that the first day she saw him she knew she would marry him. “At the time, I was dating someone else and our relationship was flourishing quite well but I couldn’t stop thinking about Sefuthi.
He was too handsome to be ignored. I worked in a travelling agency and my job entailed organising travelling logistics. Sefuthi travelled a lot and became a frequent client in our offices. I planned all his travel logistics. One thing that was so outstanding about him is his neatness and charisma. I was so smitten that just after exchanging greetings for few days I went ahead and told my mum I was going to marry this blind man. I don’t know why I told her so but she was too shocked and seemed unhappy at first.
Being the only child, my parents and especially my mother was very close to me. Days after synthesizing what I had told her, she asked me to tell her more about my boyfriend. “Were you joking about him being blind?” Mum asked me curiously but I quickly brushed it off. Later, she brought me a Nigerian movie that had a character who was blind. I knew I needed to be honest with her. After numerous long conversations about Sefuthi, she knew I was serious and assured me of her support.
Meanwhile Sefuthi and I remained great friends for months before he finally asked for my number. By then my then boyfriend had asked for my hand in marriage. I couldn’t accept his proposal because I knew my heart was elsewhere. He was devastated having waited for me to complete school. Although I felt very remorseful I knew a broken engagement was better than a broken marriage. My friends didn’t make the situation better. They too were shocked at the turn of events and questioned my decision. Some tried to convince me that Sefuthi would be too dependent on me and that if I married him I would later on get exhausted of helping him around. To them life would be boring living with a person with visual impairment. So concerned were they that one of them even asked me why I had given up in life to the extent of choosing to be with a blind man.
On the contrary Sefuthi was far from boring. In fact I had not met such a lively person. Our phone conversations lasted for hours and many times mum would come over to where I was hiding in bedroom and grab my phone away. “Oooh it is that boyfriend of yours again”, she teased. Sadly, many people think of persons with disabilities as a burden and don’t see them beyond their disabilities. For me I saw Sefuthi as a man who would make a great husband and father to my children. I was attracted to how handsome he was and his well-built body. He was also a man who loved God and I knew he would love me because he had a relationship with God. I chose to judge him by his character; a kind hearted man, who was ambitious and focused. In our phone conversations he was full of life and I therefore longed to spend the rest of my life with him.
The day I walked down the aisle with Sefuthi beside me remains one of my happiest moments in life. We had the support of our church, family and some friends. The attendance at the wedding was so high that I think people were curious and wanted to confirm if truly this wedding was happening. Some of my husband’s friends were sceptical of our relationship and thought I was a gold digger. They believed they were best placed to help him get a wife who would suit him. However, I am glad that with time I have proved wrong everyone who doubted my love for Sefuthi. I married him because I loved him and he offered me true friendship. I couldn’t foresee a life without him.”
Sefuthi Nkhasi, now 35 years old, is a father of two beautiful daughters; Refuoe and Refuoehape. He was born sighted but at the age of six years he fell sick. At the hospital doctors couldn’t save his sight and neither did they have a medical explanation for his condition. His family sought help everywhere including going to the traditional doctors but none of these bore fruit. Later, he travelled to South Africa for further treatment but still his sight couldn’t be restored. Over time his parents embraced the condition and their son as a child with visual impairment.
Sefuthi grew up in Lesotho at a time when there weren’t any special schools. He was therefore enrolled in an inclusive boarding primary school that was in Maseru; the capital city of Lesotho. Being away from home, he missed his caring family but quickly learnt to be independent at a tender age. He didn’t face any stigma and had many friends without disabilities. This built his strong personality as he was barely reminded of his disability.
On competing his primary school education, he couldn’t get a secondary school that could cater for his special needs and hence ended up being enrolled in a girl’s school “This is the place I leant my social skills, how to treat a woman and win her trust and heart.” He says. This foundation would turn out to be important later on in life when his wife. Sefuthi joined the University of Lesotho where he studied law. He is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Disability Rights in Africa at Pretoria University in South Africa. Sefuthi works at the National League for Visually Impaired in Lesotho. He is grateful that his in-laws accepted him without prejudice and he strives hard to provide and care for his family so as not to let them down.
As we conclude this interview, Sefuthi’s message to all youth with disabilities is, “You were all created for love. You deserve to be loved and treated with dignity. How you carry yourself will determine how people will treat you. Don’t be deceived that it is impossible to find true love because I found it. Trust God and commit your ways to Him.”