Bikes on Film - Emmanuel's Gift
By Jeff Guerrero
Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah was born in Ghana with a severely deformed right leg. It’s a common story in poverty-stricken West Africa—of the twenty million people in Ghana, two million are disabled. Emmanuel’s father left his family when he was young, and his mother died when he was a teenager. It seemed that he was destined to a life of begging on the streets like so many other disabled Africans. Emmanuel, however, was determined not to live a lesser life.
He stayed in school until he was 13 before moving to Accra, the capital of Ghana, to start a shoeshine business. He earned a living—albeit just $2 a day—and became empowered by his success. Shortly after his mother’s death in 1997, he decided to show his country that disabled people were not necessarily incapable.
Emmanuel learned of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) in America, and wrote a letter asking for a mountain bike. His goal was to ride 380 miles across Ghana using only his left leg to pedal. CAF sent him the bike, and Emmanuel showed the world what he was capable of.
CAF was impressed by Emmanuel’s success. Soon after they brought him to America to participate in a triathlon, but more importantly to meet other athletes who have overcome disabilities. He is introduced to the world of high-tech prosthetics, and given the opportunity to have surgery on his right leg so that he might someday walk without the use of crutches.
Before long Emmanuel is not only walking, but running. His journey continues as he gains notoriety, and eventually he wins a sizable cash award.
In keeping with his mission, Emmanuel returns home with his newfound fortune and sets out to help the millions of people living with disabilities in Ghana. He starts an educational fund for the disabled, raises awareness for challenged athletes and starts numerous other programs to help his fellow countrymen.
Although the story sounds simple, the filmmakers do a great job of capturing Emmanuel’s emotional struggle. The film is eye-opening and inspiring, and well worth watching.
Check out www.emmanuelsgift.com
Bikes on Film Flashback
Issue #7 Ski Boys
Directed by Canadian filmmaker Benny Zenga, it features Benny and his brother Christian, who take turns filming and performing their own stunts. The film was shot in Super 8 format, an old-school film medium that helped impart a beautiful, dreamlike quality.
The eight-minute film was scored by indie rock artists Jonathan Kane and From Monument To Masses. Each contributed an instrumental song that corresponded wonderfully with the visual narrative. Because there’s no dialogue, Ski Boys requires the viewer to infer a storyline. Most will deduce that the film is about having fun, being active and creating your own entertainment.
For more past Bikes on Film articles, visit www.urbanvelo.org