Ghana’s One-Legged Hero

By Michael Van Duisen on Thursday, September 12, 2013
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“There’s something always I believe myself; that I can do it, I can do it.” —Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah

In A Nutshell

Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah was born in Ghana with a severely deformed right leg. Against all cultural odds, he became a successful adult and has helped raise awareness and much-needed funds to help disabled people in his home country, who are seen as second-class citizens. He accomplished all this by cycling across Ghana and participating in various triathlons.

The Whole Bushel

Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah was born in 1977, and it was immediately noticed he had a severely deformed right leg, which usually spells doom for the children of Ghana. Nearly 10 percent of the babies born in that country have a deformity and most of them are outright killed or abandoned by their parents because they are seen as curses or bad omens. Yeboah’s father left shortly after his birth, leaving his mother to care for him by herself.

It would not have been shocking for her to abandon Yeboah but she decided to send him to school instead, a privilege usually reserved for the select children of a family, because it is prohibitively expensive. To make up for this, she carried him the 3.2 kilometers (two miles) to the school every day. He also learned a trade, shoe-shining, so he wouldn’t have to beg for a living. When his mother died in 1997, Yeboah decided to dedicate the rest of his life to helping spread the inspiration and message of tolerance she instilled in him.

In 2002, he finally undertook his journey, cycling the 650 kilometers (400 mi) across Ghana, all with just one leg. He inspired the country’s disabled, who felt like the government was not helping them in any way and that they needed a hero. Under pressure from the public, the king of Ghana publicly acknowledged and honored the disabled population. Yeboah later set up a sports academy and has so far acquired the funds for over 8,000 wheelchairs, helping the other disabled people of Ghana by raising funds and awareness through various triathlons and other events.

Show Me The Proof

Jim MacLaren and Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah: ESPY Arthur Ashe Award for Courage
One-Legged Cyclist Transforms African Nation
Standing Tall