LEADING MAN: Abdul-Karim Bouchafaa, the star of Karim's Mojo Disco.
LEADING MAN: Abdul-Karim Bouchafaa, the star of Karim's Mojo Disco.

Meet Karim, a motivational speaker who cannot speak

KARIM'S Mojo Disco is a one-man-show starring disability advocate Abdul-Karim Bouchafaa.

The issue is, Karim is a motivational speaker who cannot speak.

But that small detail would never stop the three-time Don't Dis My Ability ambassador to go ahead with the motivational presentation and interactive live performance.

Karim has cerebral palsy and enjoys martial arts and dancing.

He has been managing his individualised NDIS funding since leaving high school in 2009 and has set up a micro business presenting disability awareness workshops.

His experience enables him to share the benefits of self-directed funding with others as it will be more widely available under the NDIS.

The young man is joined on stage by Sean Baker, a Sydney-based artist who co-wrote Karim's Mojo Disco.

Karim said via email he has no problem when people describe him as disabled.

"I am proud when people identify that I have a disability," he said.

"I also feel strong a connection when I meet other people with disabilities.

"I have recently graduated from the Sydney University Uni 2 Beyond Program (an initiative that supports people with intellectual disability to experience university life). I also have an ongoing passion for the arts, in particular, music and dance."

The motivational speaker said the performance is based on his life experiences.

"The Mojo Disco has been up and running for around two years now," he explained.

"It is a showcase of my skills and abilities. There is an aspect of improvisation involved in the show. I have an uncanny ability the read the crowd.

"My martial arts display can on some days be complex and other times be more subdued, depending on the venue."

Sean Baker said the show is a hybrid of fun and motivation.

"Karim's Mojo Disco is a motivational presentation, aimed at encouraging positivity, inclusion and connection for everyone," Sean Baker said.

"People can expect a feel-good presentation that will change the way they look at disability and possibly life altogether.

"The show is charming and fun. Karim is a motivational non-speaker, so he tells his story with his charismatic stage presence and uses me as his narrator. Throw in some booty-shakin' tunes, a few comic book style graphics, a little martial arts and dancing!"

"Whatever you call it, it's a good time.

Baker said the group of people that helped put the show together call themselves Team Karim.

"I became part of the team when Karim's mum got in touch with me through a theatre company I was working with in Sydney.

"Karim, who identifies as a non-speaker, was keen to take his ideas of positivity, connection and inclusion to a wider audience as a motivational presentation.

Baker said Karim is a natural performer.

"We held a weekend workshop with a few actor mates using a play list of some of Karim's favourite tunes as inspiration and came away with the concept for Karim's Mojo Disco," he said.

"The show came together over the following couple months after further collaborative sessions between Karim and I.

"Since 2016, Karim's Mojo Disco has appeared at various venues on the East Coast of NSW as well as an awesome trip to Auckland where we performed at the All Blacks home stadium, Eden Park."

The last time Karim was at the Northern Rivers visiting friends, he ended up spending more time here than he anticipated.

"I enjoy an alternative lifestyle in particular eco-bulding and recycling. Last time we visited we were stuck up here an extra week due to floods." he said.

  • NORPA and REDinc present Karim's Mojo Disco on Wednesday, November 14 at 10am and 12pm. Each performance will be followed by a workshop/Q&A. At The Studio, Lismore City Hall, 1 Bounty St, Lismore. Tickets: $10 / $15. Call 1300 066 772 for bookings.

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