• PublishedNovember 1, 2019

Ignatius Ogeto, famously known as DJ Euphorique, has defied odds to be one of the best deejays in the country despite being restricted to a life on a wheelchair.

Born to Japheth and Martha Ogeto in a family of six, DJ Euphorique was born able bodied and enjoyed life as a child, playing football and going about life like any other kid would.

“I used to enjoy playing with kids in school and at home,” he delves into his life before disability.

It was not until the age of 16 that he found it difficult to walk. It started as a simple weakness in the joints that often happens to many of us when tired. What followed was a cause for concern for him and the whole family as wounds plagued his joints rendering his movement impossible.

“I woke up one morning and felt pain on the joints but brushed it aside thinking it is just normal pain from playing the previous day. However, the pain persisted and I informed my parents,” he reveals.

Concerned, his parents decided to rush him to Kenyatta National Hospital for checkup and after being in and out of hospital for six months without any improvement, that when he lost his ability to walk.

Tests conducted revealed that DJ Euphorique had Osteoarthritis – a degenerative joint disease characterised by pain and stiffness in the joints due to cartilage breakdown. They later discovered that the disease could not be cured.

That came as a shock to him and his beloved family because they never knew that such a predicament could befall him at such a tender age.

He spent some time going through physiotherapy as he adjusted to his new status. Accepting that he could no longer walk took a bit of time. It didn’t help that he came from a humble background hence it took nearly two months for him to get a wheelchair.

However, his supportive family helped him overcome the stress associated with the sudden change in his life.

“My family members had to carry me in and outside the house due to lack of funds to purchase a wheelchair. They never gave up in encouraging me that I could be able to do a lot despite the situation at hand. They have been with me all through,” he explains.

DJ Euphorique lost many friends due to the disability as people from the community also stopped visiting, claiming that a curse had befallen their family. Rumors of witchcraft also flew around.

Redefining life

The healing process took time. It took him two years after the diagnosis to finally find the courage and strength to pick up where he had left. He went back to his former primary school – St Joseph’s Kisumu – where he did his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and then proceeded to Joytown Special School in Thika for his secondary school studies. At Joytown, he got to interact with students who were living with various forms of disability and he felt at home.

After high school, he joined college where he pursued a course in information and communications technology (ICT) and it was whilst there that he realized his passion for deejaying. He will decide to quit college after only a semester to pursue his passion.

“Having a family who love music really played a part in my ambition to venture into the entertainment scene; my mum sings in church and my dad is a lover of music” he says.

Getting a college to admit him proved challenging due to his condition. He approached a couple of colleges to kick-start his studies in deejaying but most of them were unwilling to give him a shot. This is due to the fact that most of them were located in buildings that did not have provisions for persons living with disabilities and were not willing to compromise for his sake.

“I once went to a deejay academy in town and once the owners saw me, they said they won’t admit me because they have never dealt with anyone on a wheelchair,” explains DJ Euphorique.

But he did not give up. His persistence paid off when he chanced upon Spin Trade Academy owned by DJ Wesley and Don Ben. After calling them and telling them that he was disabled and on a wheelchair, DJ Euphorique expected a rejection as was the norm. They told him not to worry and invited him over.

He boarded a matatu and headed to the academy based in Hurlingham. On arrival, a gentleman came down to receive him and called four others when he realised he was on a wheelchair. They helped him to the first floor where the academy was located, repeating the routine throughout the three months he was there.

Boarding a matatu became a big problem, as conductors required him to pay for the wheelchair too. However, with support from fellow trainees, he managed to get through the academy.

One such trainee and in whom he found a true and reliable friend was Lee the DJ. To date, Lee the DJ accompanies him to any place he goes, including this interview, and assists him such as when boarding and alighting from the car and settling on his wheelchair.

The big break

Getting a job after the deejaying course was even harder. He went on to approach many people who ignored him due to his disability.

“One time while starting out in the industry, I went to a promoter and waited for him the whole day but he never showed up,” he explains.

His big break came during one of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. He approached the National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) who were in charge of planning the event. He told them about his art and requested them to consider him as the deejay for the day.

“Luckily, I was offered the opportunity and I gave it my best shot,” he explains.

Apparently, he needed only one shot for his star to start rising.

“After two to three weeks, I got a call from Safaricom saying that they liked my job and would want to me to deejay an event they had dubbed Kipawa,” he says smiling.

He met with officials from Safaricom to discuss the finer details of the event and it was here that he got to meet renowned gospel artist Daddy Owen who went on to invite him for a video shoot for his song Vanity and later at an event in which he was celebrating 10 years in the industry. During the celebration, Big Ted was touched by DJ Euphorique’s story and organised an impromptu fundraising in which they managed to raise around Ksh520,000, which he used to buy his first deejay deck.

Since then, DJ Euphorique has gone on to win several awards including Xtreem Award for outstanding DJ and Stylus Fortis winner for best DJ among others. He has established himself in the industry playing in big events around the country.

He earned the moniker The President’s DJ after being selected to DJ in events organised by the President such as a Christmas party held at State House last year for the less fortunate and the 2019 Madaraka Day celebration.

Giving back

His life doesn’t start and end with deejaying. DJ Euphorique is a mentor with Safaricom’s BLAZE – Be Your Own Boss (BYOB) initiative. The program features youth mentorship summits that are focussed on empowering Kenyan youth to achieve success by providing valuable information and skills in a variety of fields. The program started in 2016 and has grown to be a great platform for encouraging youth. Through his story, many youth have been encouraged to turn over a new leaf.

“I am really encouraged whenever I receive a call telling me I have touched someone’s life. A guy called me from Mombasa and told me that your story in a BLAZE concert really helped turn his life around,” he explains. The young man went on to stop doing drugs and start a small business that has really benefitted him.

Together with friends, Ignatius also pools together resources and visits the less fortunate. He has decided to give back in appreciation for the far he has come.

He has plans to establish a children’s home to bring together orphans and people with disabilities in a bid to offer the necessities they lack in life. A plan to change the negative mentality towards disabled persons is also on his wish list.

The soft-spoken gentleman is never ashamed of his disability and urges fellow disabled person to embrace who they are. He urges them to discover themselves and pursue their ambitions to the end.

“Having a disability is not the end of life, just follow your heart and be a go-getter,” he concludes.

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