David Opati Etale is a Kenyan born to a construction worker and his wife who lived in Nairobi’s Huruma slums before moving to Maringo Estate.
He attended Dr Kraft Primary School where his love and passion for football grew fueled by the fact that the school produced arguably Kenya’s most famous football star, Musa Otieno.
And as the football craze griped the nation, Etale joined the Kenya Commercial Bank football club and later played for Tusker FC before joining the British Army in late 2006, an opportunity he fully welcomed.
“In the British Army you are all treated the same, and I was a frontline soldier,” he says, as he narrates his military experience.
He admitted he joined the army because the money and services offered were good but also for the honour to serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Recalling the days of service, he vividly explained the day their convoy was attacked by suspected Taliban insurgents, an incident that later led to the amputation of his left leg.
“I was in Afghanistan and there was a lot of fighting with the Taliban. On that fateful day, I woke up at 3 am and couldn’t sleep. I took my Bible and started reading then laid my head to rest until 6 am.”
The war veteran said on that fateful day in 2009, everything seemed relatively calm, until 6:30 pm when his troops were attacked, heavy gun fire ensued for close to two hours and they even had to call for air support.
“I was driving the lead vehicle that had our commander who was the overall captain of the brigade, and as I was driving, I ran over an IED about 50 meters from where we were holed up, the next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital in the UK,” said Opate.
With no recollection of what happened after the attack, Etale started his recovery process compounded by post traumatic stress disorder.
He said: “that was the most challenging thing I have faced in life. I was put on the suicide watch list because I tried to take my own life twice. This is where you sit down and think and dream about the things you’ve seen in war.”
Etale said he had to see a psychiatrist after witnessing explosions, decapitation and killings, things that cannot easily be forgotten.
In January 2016 after having many problems with his leg, doctors decided that the best thing to do was to amputate it.
“I do miss my leg but the most beautiful thing about life is whenever you accept the situation, you can turn it into a positive one. Having realized this I decided to be a motivational speaker as I believed it was my destiny,” he said.
Etale says he does not classify himself as disabled, even as he faces discrimination due to his missing limb with his strongest motivation and source of happiness being in not focusing on the past which has allowed him to move on with his life.
Now a motivational speaker in the UK together with other soldiers injured in the line of duty, David Etale leaves us with this final quote:
“The only disability in life is having a bad attitude.”
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