5 QUESTIONS WITH JOY OF INCLUSION PROTAGONIST – ERIK HOLM
Tell us about yourself
My name is Erik Holm - and I am an Adventurer. I may be best known to some South Africans for my role as the quadriplegic, Riaan Malherbe in the popular Kyknet series “Binnelanders” – a role I’ve been playing since 2008.
About 15years ago... while performing the role of “Benjamin Komoeti” in the well-known stage production “Fiela se Kind” in Secunda My life changed dramatically due to a freak diving accident. Leaving this once bubbly, free spirited “Malkoppie” - paralysed and confined to a wheelchair and without much hope or dignity.
BUT - With the help, love and assistance of family and friends as well as positive outlook on life, I slowly regained my confidence and self-esteem, and today considers myself to be the luckiest quad around.
Although my accident helped in shaping the person I am today...I am not only a quadriplegic....I am so many things....Actor, singer, Guitar player, director, writer- avid woodworker...and that’s just the tip of the ice-berg....brother, son, friend. And last but not least - Partner to an amazing woman.
You are one of the five Inclusion Heroes who are part of NESTLÉ CREMORA’s reimagined Joy of Inclusion advert “It’s Not Inside... It’s On Top”, what does inclusion mean to you?
To me inclusion means...to have the same options...to be part of Life and participate in a meaningful way, and on a personal level. To be able to chose and have access to choices that govern our lives...where we shop, where we chose to eat...play...work and learn. To not be excluded based on a “Technicality” – most often a point you specifically did NOT HAVE a choice about in the First place...whether it be race, gender or physical limitations...To be a useful and celebrated PART....of something bigger than yourself.
To your understanding, what perception did society have of inclusion in the past? Would you say there is a noticeable shift in that perception regarding today’s behavioural conduct from society?
I think the social scale has a tendency to swing quite wild from one extreme to the other. In an attempt to -Right the wrongs of the Past- we often tend to replace one type of oversight with another...I think this is sadly also what happens to the idea of ‘Inclusion’. In the past the minorities and ‘Fringe’ groups were perhaps treated unfairly – because they were considered by many a threat to the status quo...to the ‘Norm’. BUT when the time came to atone for this exclusion...many people and society at large almost tried ‘TO HARD’ and perhaps over-corrected in the process. Inclusion does not mean every Rugby team MUST have at least 2 disabled players in...or every business MUST employ at least a 10%minimum of differently abled people....this is not inclusion...Inclusion...is to provide to the disabled community the same CHOICE and OPPERTUNITY...as the rest of humanity....the CHOICE to play rugby ...IF THEY WANT TO....the CHOICE to join a Business...IF THE WANT TO...and the OPPORTUNITY...to show what they are capable of...IF....GIVEN...THE...SAME....CHOICE...
Obviously this is a process that should be implemented on grass root level – and is not something achieved overnight. However I think now that people are becoming aware that you cannot Jumpstart a ‘Quick Fix’ and Just Enforce Equality and Inclusion as a law, but rather that it is an ideology that needs To be expressed in the long run...with the seeds sown All along the way...and then watered and tended with care and effort. I think people are becoming aware the problem is not only laws and regulations...it has to do with how we perceive and treat each other on a daily basis.
What is that one aspect about you that brings you Joy?
I love my sense of humour...it has gotten me Out Of (...and sometimes In To) – some very strange situations. And when people smile...nothing else matters.
What does the Joy Of Inclusion mean to you?
To me – the joy of inclusion is actually really simple – Togetherness....We....Not – ME AND YOU....simply WE. To be part of...to belong...