Ayabonga Jim was born and raised in a settlement called Ndevana situated in the eastern part of King William’s Town, in the Eastern Cape.
“I was raised by Fundiswa Jim, who was and still is, a single parent. We are a family of two boys and a girl. I was born disabled in 2001. I began using crutches from the time I started to walk, and as I was growing up, I ended up using a wheelchair,” Ayabonga tells Rise ‘N Shine.
He says he started his schooling in 2007 at Vukuhambe Special School, a public school for children with special needs in Mdantsane. As the school is 57,4 km away from Ayabonga’s home, Rise ‘N Shine is not sure if Ayabonga had to travel from home to school every day, or he is one of the boarders at the school.
However, what we know about Ayabonga is that he has a deep passion for basketball, and he wouldn’t let anything come between him and his love of this game. “I was involved in soccer since 2010 and in 2013 I started to play basketball,” he reveals. Ayabonga has once again proven that persons with physical disabilities can still take part in any sport.
In 2018 he was selected to represent South Africa in Dubai in a basketball tournament. In the same year, he also travelled to Canada for the World Wheelchair Basketball Championship. The South African Paralympic team has consistently finished near the top of the medal table at every Summer Paralympic Games since the country was re-admitted to compete.
Notable athletes with disabilities that previously represented South Africa include Natalie du Toit, Ernst van Dyk and Kgothatso Montjane.“In 2020 I was supposed to go to the Republic of Angola for a tournament but as it turned out, I couldn’t go due to the Covid-19 pandemic that hit our country,” Ayabonga says.
“These achievements made me happy because all of them showed that disability doesn’t stop a person from achieving their dreams and full potential,” he says.“My motivation to other youth with disabilities out there is to keep away from peer pressure and drugs. Also, having self-confidence is very important even if you are a person with disabilities. Living with disabilities doesn’t have to limit a person, you must always try and reach your potential and dreams. I am very ambitious and have full faith in my abilities. Nothing is impossible for me to reach,” Ayabonga says.