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’Chicken Legs’-a book about never giving up while being autistic

Mogamad Salie, the author of his self-published book. image supplied.

Mogamad Salie, the author of his self-published book. image supplied.

Published Sep 28, 2021

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Cape Town - A Cape Town father has written a book about living with autism hoping to provide insight into the constant battle to belong and never give up.

Mogamad Salie, 51 better known as EM, is the self-publishing author of the book, titled: “Chicken Legs.”

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For the first time in his life, Salie took pen to paper and wrote about his life, in the hope that it would bridge the gap in understanding people living with autism.

Salie, a father of three, husband, and a qualified electrical engineer, who worked in Switzerland for 15 years, was diagnosed with autism only in his adulthood.

Mogamad Salie, the author of his self-published book. image supplied.

He recalls how as a little boy, he had always felt he was “different” but never gave up, and how he encouraged and supported by his parents.

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Salie was also diagnosed with a cervical degenerative disc disease leaving him with constant neck and arm pain, and has been unable to work for a few years now.

He is a coach for Fighterz INC, MMA and Wellness Academy, Mixed Martial Arts, Wellness and Personal training studio and began jiu-jitsu in 1997 in Cape Town.

As a child, Salie was always interested in mathematics, patterns and shapes

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In the book, Salie described his life as an infant to age 17, growing up in Cape Town during the Apartheid era, family life and tradition, and says it is an ode to his parents who encouraged him to rise above his circumstances.

“I wanted someone who reads the book to relate, it is not about book sales,” he said.

“My father and mother played a big role in my life and my mother knew how to deal with me, she didn't know I was autistic, it is somewhat an ode to my mother. It is about how I could not connect or relate with people” he said.

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When asked why the book is titled: “Chicken Legs,'' he said he wanted the reader to discover this while reading the book.

“The reason for the title is in the book, I do not want to give that away. I do not mention autism in the book, if you know I am autistic, you will pick it up in the style, the mood, the monotone,” he said.

Salie is today part of many support groups for Autism Spectrum.

An extract from the book. supplied

Here is an extract from the book, which gives a glimpse into his world: “Em was born while his parents rented a house in Wynberg. Although it was less than three hundred metres away from a White area, he seldom saw them where he lived or went into their area. Hence, in his first six years he did not comprehend exactly what privilege the Whites had and how his people and he were oppressed. He lived in a happy bubble created by his parents and surrounded by his brothers, whom he thought, were the most amazing people, with all their knowledge. He marvelled at how big and strong they were and how they always were together. So, he was eagerly waiting for the time that he could join them in the same school. The first day of primary school in the year he turned six was an exciting day for him. Therefore, when Mom walked with him to his classroom he stopped her and said.

“You can go now, I can see my classroom and there are people already in it. Don’t come in. I am okay.”

At the classroom, he stormed in and found a place to sit. There were over thirty kids sitting in small desks and some mothers were standing around near them. He found a place in the right corner at the back .As the other mother’s left, some of the learners started to cry and held onto them. Em was puzzled by this…”

Salie’s wife, Jinan Rebecca Salie said the book provides insight and helps in understanding autism: “In my opinion, the book can help people understand people on the autistic spectrum better. It highlights the disconnection between Em and "the others".

“For example: an unfriendly neighbour might actually just fear the whole unwritten social ritual of greeting. A pedantic worker needs to know all the details because knowledge lowers his anxiety, a naughty pupil disturbs the class because the teacher doesn't answer his questions.

“These are three situations happening to Em in the book and they represent his adult life as well. I am very proud of my husband for achieving this, as he doesn't read books and never attended any writing classes or similar.

“As mentioned above, he is a voice for the " high functioning " side of autism, a voice that is seldom heard,” she said.

Fidaah Edries, the Head Coach of Fighterz Inc MMA, said Salie was a skilled MMA fighter: “Yes, he is the head Brazilian jiujitsu instructor at Fighterz Inc. MMA. He is one of the first people in the Western Cape to get a black belt in Brazilian jiujitsu. He graded under the Gracie family that founded jiujitsu.”

The book is in the process of being self-published this week, will retail at R220 and is available at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09H7MZ2Y4.

If you want to know more about the book or pre-order one, please contact Mogamad on [email protected]

Weekend Argus

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