Lebohang Monyatsi: The Inspiring Story of Africa’s First Disabled Model
Lebohang Monyatsi is the first woman in Africa to be a runway model in a wheelchair.
Lebohang Monyatsi is recognized for representing her country in the field of Wheelchair Basketball and also for been the first runner up in 2017 Miss Wheelchair World Pageant, Lebohang is extremely passionate about the needs of children, disability inclusion and accessible features for all.
Lebohang was born and raised in North West Province, in a small town called Vryburg. She was raised by her grandmother who was unemployed with a little help from government’s grants. When she was just three years old, she was diagnosed with Poliomyelitis and as a result, was not able to start school in time like other children of her age.
As if that was not enough, Lebohang lost her mother still at a very young age and also lost her best friend – her high school teacher Mrs. Setshedi- during her teen years.
She spent most of her life in boarding school at Gelukspan and has since depended on a wheelchair for movement from the time she was 3.
Apart from being a model/ beauty pageant, Lebohang is also a basketball player. While a student at the North-West University, Mafikeng, her strong abilities in the game of basketball earned her a spot in South Africa‘s wheelchair basketball team. she now plays for both provincial and national wheelchair Basketball teams. Consequently, the young lady has had the opportunity of travelling around South Africa and outside the country too. ”I don’t see my self not playing basketball, love it”, she says.
According to Miss Lebohang Monyatsi, known on Instagram as the Rolling Goddess, she has loved modelling since she was a child but could not pursue it because there were no opportunities for people with disabilities in the industry. She also lamented that South Africa ignores diversity and inclusion. Lebohang finally decided to chase after her dream of being a model in order to open doors for others and be a role model to all the people who thought it was not possible. She also aims at going beyond the local modelling arena to the international stage. The purpose-driven lady, however, does not think that modelling on a wheelchair will catch on anytime soon in Africa.
Lebohang was a finalist for Face Of The Globe in 2016 and has modelled at Soweto Fashion week which appeared on Selimathunzi. She has also modeled at Maboneng Fashion week and GeeJunction Fashion show and recently she emerged the first runner-up in the first ever Miss Wheelchair World Pageant 2017 and was crowned as ‘First Princess’. This was a huge success for the South African record breaker considering the fact that the competition featured 24 young women from 19 countries.
Her duties as a First Princess will include marketing Miss Wheelchair World to her best ability, getting involved in charity and making a positive impact on people with different abilities
Wheelchair World Pageant is a worldwide confidence building program and competition for young women
with the aim of changing image and attitude for people with disabilities and improving the qualiity their lives all around the world.
Despite her seeming physical limitation, Lebohang has a degree in Social Psychology from North-West University, Mafikeng and is currently pursuing a second degree in Communication Science.
According to the model, her daily motivation comes from the quote, “be the change you wish to see”. This spurs her continuously to lead by example
“The main goal is to break the stereotypes associated with people with disabilities in the fashion/entertainment industry and to pave the way for those to follow and succeed me.” Lebohang Monyatsi, the first Disabled South African model in a wheelchair to be a runway model.
Sources: sheleadsafrica | enca | answersafrica