Twenty-four year-old Wakonta Kapunda can answer her phone, compose text messages, and even write movie scripts. None of these immediately seems extraordinary until you realise that Kapunda performs all of these using her tongue.
Kapunda is paralysed from the neck down, the result of a near-fatal accident she sustained in 2012 just before she graduated from secondary school. Months of treatment in hospitals have done little to help Kapunda, who remains confined to a wheelchair. But Kapunda has not allowed her condition dampen her cheerful and optimistic spirit.
Kapunda may be a quadriplegic, but she has gone on to put the one part of her body that she can still control to incredible use. Kapunda has learned to carry out multiple functions on her phone using her tongue. In an interview with The Citizen of Tanzania, Kapunda tells the story of how she first began to type with her tongue:
“One day, my sister had gone out to pick something, and I was all by myself when the phone rang. I struggled and in the process I touched the answer button with my tongue. This is when I discovered that I could pick up calls using other parts of the body.”
Inspired by her new-found ability, Kapunda was determined to push it to the limits. She recalls: “When my sister returned, I asked her to put some pillows around my chest to elevate the phone to the level where I could easily reach it with my tongue.”
It was all not smooth sailing though. Kapunda said she had to break through a pain barrier to see her dreams come true. “My tongue pained in the beginning and my neck and head ached, but with some persistence with time I got used to the whole thing,” she explains.
Using her tongue, Kapunda now types with a speed that is nothing short of amazing. Her quest to continue to be useful to herself and to find meaning in life led her to expand her interest in Nollywood movies into a passion for screenwriting. Kapunda is now a budding screenwriter who is taking screenwriting classes at the Maisha Lab, a film school in Zanzibar, Tanzania.