A memoir penned with one good finger, Ndopu writes about being profoundly disabled and profoundly successful
Global humanitarian Eddie Ndopu was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a rare degenerative motor neuron disease affecting his mobility. He was told that he wouldn’t live beyond age five and yet, Ndopu thrived. He grew up loving pop music, lip syncing the latest hits, and watching The Bold and the Beautiful for the haute couture, and was the only wheelchair user at his school, where he flourished academically. By his late teens, he had become a sought after speaker, travelling the world to address audiences about disability justice.
Ndopu was ecstatic when he was later accepted on a full scholarship into one of the world's most prestigious schools, Oxford University. But he soon learns that it's not just the medical community he must thwart— it's the educational one too.
In Sipping Dom Pérignon Through a Straw, we follow Ndopu, sporting his oversized, bejewelled sunglasses, as he scales the mountain of success, only to find exclusion, discrimination, and neglect waiting for him on the other side. Like every other student, Ndopu tries to keep up appearances—dashing to and from his public policy lectures before meeting for cocktails with his squad, all while campaigning to become student body president. Privately, however, Ndopu faces obstacles that are all too familiar to people with disabilities, yet remain unnoticed by most people. With the revolving door of care aides, hefty bills, and a lack of support from the university, Ndopu feels alienated by his environment. As he soars professionally, sipping champagne with world leaders, he continues to feel the loneliness and pressure of being the only one in the room. Determined to carve out his place in the world, he must challenge bias at the highest echelons of power and prestige. But as the pressure mounts, Ndopu must find his stride or collapse under the crushing weight of ableism.
Written with his one good finger, this evocative, searing, and vulnerable prose will leave you spellbound by Ndopu’s remarkable journey to reach beyond ableism, reminding us of our own capacity for resilience.
Described by TIME magazine as “one of the most powerful disabled people on the planet,” Eddie Ndopu is an award-winning global humanitarian and social justice advocate. He serves as one of the UN Secretary-General’s SDG Advocates and sits on the board of the United Nations Foundation. Ndopu has been featured in Forbes, Global Citizen, Rolling Stone, Guardian, OkayAfrica, and more. He lives in New York City.
"As Ndopu deftly shares his life story, he chronicles memorable moments of awe and inspiration as well as dismay and embarrassment at the persistent ways that ableism has made his rise so difficult. One of Ndopu’s greatest strengths as an author is his ability to carry any reader as a collaborator and confidant without neglecting the appropriate indictments of the countless slights, assumptions, and micro- and macroaggressions that he faces. . . . An unflinching memoir of determined self-actualization.” -- Kirkus
“Sipping Dom Perignon Through a Straw is essential reading for anyone who’s ever wondered how they can do right and do better by disabled people. Eddie has provided a template for allyship while remaining uncompromising in his self-worth. He is a masterful writer poised for even more great success.” -- Forest Whitaker
“I have seen Eddie when he was still a teenager and walked alongside him as he demonstrated to the world that one need not yield their extraordinary power to the limits placed on their ability. Now, as an author, Eddie brings us into his reality—one filled fun and love yet oversaturated with barriers and challenges. Nestled in these expressive pages is a crucial lesson on the importance of humanity, the need for radical, comprehensive person-first care.” -- Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum
“As this gripping tale unfolds, readers will fall in love with the fabulous Eddie Ndopu as they witness the power of sustained advocacy and the beauty of community. Sparkling with wit and wisdom, Eddie Ndopu’s book is a gift for us all.” -- Haben Girma, award-winning disability justice advocate and author of Haben
[H] Legacy Lit / August 01, 2023