Karabo Nguyuza was diagnosed with the Poliovirus when she was only 10 years old; and just like that, her entire life changed. As if that was not enough, she was later diagnosed with cancer. Instead of losing hope and focus she developed a stronger sense of belief and confidence in her own capabilities.

Today she has grown to be a multi-disciplined woman: she is a doting mother, an author, a shrewd entrepreneur and an inspiration to other people. “In the past, Polio was not a rare virus. All thanks to the medical research and fine work from the medical fraternity a vaccine was found,” Karabo tells Rise ‘N Shine.

“As you can imagine this hit my family hard. There was an added financial strain in trying to find a school that would accommodate someone with my disability. Not to mention drastic changes at home. By the grace of God, I was admitted to a government boarding school catering for learners with disabilities,” she recalls.

Karabo says during the course of her schooling, there were some hiccups here and there. A few more detentions and transgressions like in every other school.
“Even as disabled as we were, we were just children all the same. We longed and needed to be viewed equal to the majority of the humans who were lucky enough to be born okay,” Karabo says.

“The School environment was not the best, the food was worse, and the treatment could have been better. However, the majority of us still managed to graduate and received our matric certificate. I even went on to getting married and having a son, but that is a story for another time,” she quips.
Karabo’s business, Atang Residential Guest house, started as an initiative that sought to offer comfort and luxury to the middle and lower class living in Tembisa. It quickly became a favourite hotspot an gave many established guesthouses a run for their money. “Atang rivaled the already established guest houses in the area and even in the likes of Sandton and all the other high class suburbs. It is a place where our clients can wine or dine on finest 5 stars African cuisines. All prepared by renowned South African chefs and those looking to make a name for themselves,” she explains.Her guest house raised the bar by adding two complimentary services, massage and nail treatment for patrons who want to relax and maintain their good looks.
They even cater for walk-in clients looking to pamper themselves for a special day or just any day. This is all because Atang subscribes to this motto: Every day is a special day to a woman or man.
Getting this fledgling business off the ground was not easy for Karabo.
One of the challenges she had to deal with include getting the Ekurhuleni Municipality to approve the change from a residential area into a business zone. “It was also one of the first guest houses to be founded within the area, hence no one thought it was a viable business plan to begin with. Finding funding to get the business off the ground was another challenge,” she says.

She says there was a point where she thought of quitting, but it was not an option. “I think I speak for all entrepreneurs when I say that every business owner is likely hit rock bottom, and not just once but several times. Sometimes even trusting in the wrong people. Some of them manipulated and used me, or even made empty promises (like getting extra funding) and thereafter left me hanging. Not to mention hyping myself up for the much-needed business deal which ended up falling into pieces,” Karabo says.

Atang guest house has been recognised as the best guest house in Tembisa.
Karabo attributes that highlight to the high class spa, massage parlour and the nail bar they decided to complement her business with. “We also have theme related settings. For instance, we have room and spaces designed to cater for birthday celebrations, anniversaries and your typical honeymoon suits. We also have a shuttle available for our guests travelling to and from the airport or any other destination—free of charge.”
Karabo says she has devised a way of dealing with nosy people who like prying information about her disability. “I honestly feel more comfortable sharing such details with close friends, my doctors or my family,” she says. “So, in essence, I am assertive when setting my boundaries. I strive to be kind with the words. I have even gone as far as to educate others about the various disabilities and how to respect us. Most importantly, what others see as a disability is in fact an enabler for us, one which pushes us to work harder, go further and reach even higher than the said “normal people” could ever hope to.

Karabo’s words of wisdom are: “Nothing is impossible as long as you put your mind and effort into it. If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. Those who have made it before you did not do it over night or use magic (Umuthi). Their success comes from hard work and dedication. Lastly there are no shortcuts in life, you will have to go through all the trials and challenges the lord has prepared for you. Those same challenges will turn you into the woman or man who God needs you to be. Be careful of the people you surround yourself with, if you want to be successful then surround yourself with likeminded people and you will be sure to succeed. If you have a dream or goal, do not look for approval from people, just go out there and do it. Even if you fail, do it again (in a different way) until you get it right,” she says. Karabo unwinds by reading, writing and listening to music.


1. We disabled people are just like any other person; we have feelings and rights too.
2. We may be physically challenged but we are not mentally challenged. We are just as intelligent if not more intelligent than most able-bodied people, take for instance, Stephen Hawking.
3. Disabled people can achieve much more than what society limits them to. So, do not be afraid to reach for the stars, all your goals and dreams are available to you. You just have to reach out and take them.
4. Make sure to ask before trying to assist them by pushing the wheelchair or helping them in any other way, because such is their right.
5. Having a disabled child is not a curse or something to be ashamed of. Like any child, they will need tender love and care, but just a little more than usual.

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