Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) commends Sunday Times for raising an important issue in a story about a project in Orange Farm where houses with special needs children are painted purple to raise awareness on disability. One of the people profiled in the story is a child with cerebral palsy.

The article for which MMA awards a GLAD[1] is titled, “The power of PURPLE” (Sunday Times, 25/08/2019, p.9). According to the story by Jeff Wicks and Talia Aliber, 17-year-old Desley Ngomane spent most of her childhood inside her constricted home because of her mother’s fear of the community’s unkindness.

The article quotes from a 2016 research by the African Child Policy Forum stating, “disabled children are among the most neglected groups in society, with most facing “enormous economic, political and social barriers”.” The article also accesses, other than the mothers of children with disabilities, an official from Afrika Tikkun and another from Sunshine Association. Afrika Tikkun reportedly drives the initiative of painting houses with children with disabilities purple.

The article is accompanied by four photographs with two of them showing Desley standing next to her mother with a bright smile on her face. Their house is among those that were painted purple.

Children living with disabilities do not receive enough coverage in the media.[2] This article creates awareness around the issues these children are facing and helps communities to understand, through the experts quoted, that a child with a disability is a normal child and needs to be “accepted” and “supported” without being judged. Sunday Times took seriously its role to educate citizens through reporting and raise awareness on issues facing children. For this, we applaud the publication.

We encourage journalists and the publication to continue highlighting such issues as it is only by doing so that the children with disabilities will not be stigmatised and discriminated against.

By Jacques Ndong


[1] A GLAD is awarded when journalists report positively on a child and respect the rights of that child

[2] (Slide 5) Disability is not among the top 10 topics the media covers and does not make an appearance on the list of topics less covered. This shows that either the topic received a coverage of less than one percent or was not reported on at all during the monitoring period.