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Letter from Kinshasa

Power to the paraplegics of central Africa

By Michela Wrong   October 1999

It is hard to think of a place where the politically-correct approach to disability has made fewer inroads than Africa. Most Africans I know make no attempt to mask the instinctive shudder of horror, the automatic shrinking from contact. It is an approach whose only merit is its complete lack of hypocrisy.

Handicapped children-mainly victims of polio outbreaks their parents could not afford to vaccinate against-are not sent to school: why waste the investment? As adults they are barred from jobs, overlooked in hospitals and considered unsuitable candidates for marriage. In former Za?re (now Democratic Republic of Congo), poverty and…

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