The title of this message is inspired by the current Super Story series on Nigerian television. The TV drama production titled Godwin: The Beautiful Mind tells the story of a special needs child who is a gifted artist.
I pause as I write to think of them. They are all around us, in our neighbourhoods. Some could be related to us in one way or the other. A brother, a sister, a spouse, a niece, a nephew, a child, a friend or any other relation. They are there and they stare at us daily as they struggle for relevance in a society that gives them a slim chance to excel.
But many of them have chosen to take that slim chance!
I remember that day again. It was the year 2012. I was standing on a queue with my friend, Jumoke. We were waiting to be ushered into the Excellence in Leadership Conference at Daystar Christian Centre, Lagos. I turned to Jumoke as a thought crept into my mind.
‘Jummy, do you know we are queuing up to listen to a blind man?’I asked her.
‘That’s it,’ she said shortly.
The reality dawned on me as I stood on that queue. The award winning music producer, Cobhams Asuquo was speaking at the conference that day. I thought of the usual picture of the blind men of yesteryears. They sit in the open air, begging for alms, objects of pity, dancing to the rhythm of coins tossed aimlessly in their direction.
But here was a man who dared to stand out amongst the pack. A man who looked beyond his disability to tap into the beautiful mind given to him by God. A man who created musical notes from a place beyond the reach of his eyesight.
Cobhams Asuquo stands out as a testimony of ability in disability and is today an ambassador for MTN, the global communications giant.
I heard again of another of them. The ones I spoke about earlier of whom Cobhams is a member. The many males and females with disabilities who live amongst us.
He is a British born artist who has distinguished himself in a world of creativity.
Yinka Shonibare, living with cerebral palsy who has made the nation of Nigeria proud with his unique works of art.
At this time, I give credit to a friend of mine. I call him my creative consultant. Emmanuel Effiong Bright who helped to discover yet another gifted special needs individual.
Taiwo Lawal, profiled as Africa’s first blind photographer. And you wonder how a photographer who takes pictures can be blind. But hers is a classic case of living beyond excuses. Taiwo has proved that a beautiful mind can be more productive than seeing eyes that cannot glimpse beauty.
Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf and distinguished herself as an author and lecturer once said that there was something worse than blindness and that was having two eyes with no vision. Taiwo may not see the pictures she takes but in her mind, she visualises beauty and creates it.
I wonder what excuse those with all the five senses intact can give. Gives me food for thought!
This piece is dedicated to them. I cannot list all of them but they are there. The people living with disabilities who have chosen to create beauty out of what seems like a disadvantage.
This piece is written for them. Fathers and Mothers of these special needs children who have stories to tell and have dared to stand by their children to benefit from the world of beauty that they have a right to enjoy. I heard the story of a woman who sacrificed her marriage to take care of her child born with down syndrome.
I speak for many like me who desire to give these special children a right to be special in the special world that they have been born into.
We celebrate the beautiful minds around us. And we pray that we shall in our own ways make this world a beautiful place for them to live and thrive.