Blind people generally walk with a little stick or have a guide dog to help them get around. The stick helps by touching things and this helps them to know where they are and the guide dog has a leash enabling the owner to slowly follow it.
But there is an unusual young blind man who lives in Tynwald North near the Westgate area of Harare who has baffled the neighbourhood because of his independent exploits.
His name is Nathan Zaranyika (26), who has never walked with a stick and he says that he may just use the stick in old age, like all geriatrics do.
“I can sense obstacles about 20 metres away and although I have sometimes tumbled over some obstacles, these incidents have not deterred me from going about my chores alone,” he said.
When this writer caught up with him this week, Nathan had just walked from Westgate suburb to Tynwald North, which is about three kilometres apart.
His footsteps are so fast that you would hardly
realise he is visually impaired.
The footpath he had used is in a bushy area, where muggings and rapes have taken place, especially at night.
But is he not scared?
“I am not scared at all for I know I have divine protection from God. I have power within myself that will scare a thief or mugger.”
Nathan was born blind but lost the first eye when he had turned three. He was to also lose the second eye in 1995 when he was in Grade Seven.
“We were living in Kuwadzana then, when my eyeballs literally popped out and had to be removed totally.
“Blindness has not stood in my way and never have I felt any different from other people of my age. I could play and jump around with other children when I was much younger.”
Zaranyika attended Chedonje Primary School in Kadoma, Howard Mission School in Chiweshe for his secondary education and Prince Edward High School for his “A” Levels.
But he never used Braille for his studies.
The Braille system is a method that is widely used by blind people to read and write, and was the first digital form of writing.
“Other students would read to me and I would type on an ordinary typewriter and this explains some of the reasons why I find it easy to work with computers.
“I passed my As with 18 points in Physics, Chemistry, Computers and Maths. For my Os I attained four As, two Bs and 1 C.
He is now a holder of a degree from US-based Hadley University which he completed in 2006.
When this writer met him at the weekend, Zaranyika had just arrived from Westgate where he had gone to repair a computer.
“Operating systems problems are the most common matter that I deal with regularly, which can corrupt the machine. Viruses are also a major problem as these hit files in the computers.”
Zaranyika recently surprised a resident in the area when he told him that he had “seen” his car in the city centre, but it was being driven by someone else.
The resident, Patson Mkwenya, was so astounded for he had indeed sold his Honda family car and had since bought another one.
Pastor Joachim Kwaramba of Pinnacle of Grace AFM church in Tynwald North once mentioned Zaranyika in one of his sermons.
“Nathan saw me the first day I moved into this area over a year ago, but he recognised me the second day as he was passing by. He actually greeted me by my name.
“That was really amazing.”
Zaranyika travels to the city in kombis unaided and walks into high-rise buildings where he conducts business alone.
Faith Macheka, also a resident in Tynwald North, said that she was so surprised one day to find Zaranyika riding a bicycle.
His grandmother Elizabeth Hlomayi said she was so traumatised when they discovered that Zaranyika was blind.
“But we later realised that he was such an intelligent baby. We would sometimes tease him at baby clinic by giving him to other nursing mothers to feed him but he could tell the difference and crawl towards his mother.”
Zaranyika presently has a registered company which he seeks to partner with a foreign-based company.
“I am short of capital at the moment because some of the consumer products I want to import have to be registered first. The project has a lot to do with Access Internet Providers and I need to do something first that will generate capital.”
He expressed his desire to establish an Internet and phone company as he had had some experience with Access Internet Technology, where he did his attachment after completing his degree.
Nathan is the eldest of three children that include Matthew, who is now studying mechanics in South Africa, and Ruth who is a student at Dzivaresekwa 2 High School.
“I hate to see blind beggars looking so desperate. They should do something to improve their standard of living, like doing craftwork and singing. I have seen other blind people engaging in basketry and I think that could sustain their lives.
“Disability does not mean inability and I want to prove that in the next five years.”