Meet Viral Student Tiktoker: The Story of Brian Waihenya

  • TikToker Brian Waihenya who was left paralyzed after a road accident seven years ago
    TikToker Brian Waihenya who was left paralyzed after a road accident seven years ago.
    File
  • Brian Waihenya, commonly known as Mr Chairman, by virtue of him being on a wheelchair, is easy to spot in a crowd, especially on the online streets of the video-sharing app TikTok.

    His videos draw you in, as you wonder how he dances so effortlessly, exuding such grace and confidence that one actually forgets that he is a quadriplegic.

    However, the 28-year-old procurement student was not born with the disability. His unfortunate predicament occurred one fateful night seven years ago in Nakuru when he was involved in a grisly road accident that left him paralyzed.

    Medics from Londiani Hospital attend to victims of accident at Fort Ternan on Monday, October 11, 2021.
    Medics from Londiani Hospital attend to victims of an accident at Fort Ternan on Monday, October 11, 2021.

    Speaking in a local podcast, Waihenya narrated his story, of how a night of merrymaking turned ugly, permanently changing the course of his life.

    He was in the company of four of his friends when a trailer rammed into the vehicle that they were traveling in, causing death and destruction, and he was one of the lucky two who survived the crash that claimed the lives of his friends.

    "I did not know what happened, after the accident I regained consciousness three days later," he stated in the podcast.

    The healing process took an emotional toll on him, pushing him into a dark depression as he grieved the loss of his friends, but more so grieving the life that he himself had lost, as the accident had left him 100 percent incapacitated.

    Noting that he was a third-year student pursuing procurement at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in 2014, his education was stalled, as the movement to and from the institution had proved difficult, with no online classes then.

    It was when he received his first motorized wheelchair in 2015 that his life took a turn for the better, as the possibility of movement was now a reality, giving him unlimited access to the world in a new way, but a way that he was ready to explore.

    The new sense of freedom breathed life into him, motivating him to pursue writing, a passion he held close to his heart since his high school days. He recounted how he got paid to write letters by other students, which has now blossomed to a thriving blogging career, where he writes about his own struggles with disability.

    "It is so exciting to be paid for doing something that you love doing for free. It is so rewarding," he stated on the podcast.

    However, when the pandemic struck, he among tens of millions of people found themselves stuck at home, and that was when he decided to venture into TikTok.  Little did he know that this was going to be the turn-around moment for him.

    He attracted a huge audience, many of whom were curious about what had happened to him, inquiring how he has been able to cope after all these years. In fact, he has amassed about  91,400 followers with his videos reaching up to 4.5 million views.

    This newfound stardom has given him a platform to champion the rights of people living with disability, as well as sourcing for funding for his foundation, Strong Spine Foundation that he started in 2018.

    He stated that his foundation has been raising funds for motorized wheelchairs, adult diapers and sanitary towels for those living with disability. The organization's biggest project was a house building project where they built a house for a disabled young man in Njoro, Nakuru County.

    Waihenya stated that he would want his legacy to be etched into history books as one who contributed significantly to the lives of those he interacted with, and as a vulnerable man who did not have all the answers but lived life the best way he knew how.

    Rear tyre suspension of the electric wheelchair
    Rear tyre suspension of the electric off-road wheelchair
    File
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