A memoir penned with one good finger, Ndopu writes about being profoundly disabled and profoundly successful
Global humanitarian Eddie Ndopu was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a rare degenerative motor neuron disease affecting his mobility. He was told that he wouldn't live beyond age five and yet, Ndopu thrived. He grew up loving pop music, lip syncing the latest hits, and watching The Bold and the Beautiful for the haute couture, and was the only wheelchair user at his school, where he flourished academically. By his late teens, he had become a sought after speaker, travelling the world to address audiences about disability justice.
Ndopu was ecstatic when he was later accepted on a full scholarship into one of the world's most prestigious schools, Oxford University. But he soon learns that it's not just the medical community he must thwart-- it's the educational one too.
In Sipping Dom Pérignon Through a Straw, we follow Ndopu, sporting his oversized, bejewelled sunglasses, as he scales the mountain of success, only to find exclusion, discrimination, and neglect waiting for him on the other side. Like every other student, Ndopu tries to keep up appearances--dashing to and from his public policy lectures before meeting for cocktails with his squad, all while campaigning to become student body president. Privately, however, Ndopu faces obstacles that are all too familiar to people with disabilities, yet remain unnoticed by most people. With the revolving door of care aides, hefty bills, and a lack of support from the university, Ndopu feels alienated by his environment. As he soars professionally, sipping champagne with world leaders, he continues to feel the loneliness and pressure of being the only one in the room. Determined to carve out his place in the world, he must challenge bias at the highest echelons of power and prestige. But as the pressure mounts, Ndopu must find his stride or collapse under the crushing weight of ableism.
Written with his one good finger, this evocative, searing, and vulnerable prose will leave you spellbound by Ndopu's remarkable journey to reach beyond ableism, reminding us of our own capacity for resilience.