According to Harry Emerson Forsdick –
“Rebellion against your handicaps gets you nowhere. Self-pity gets you nowhere. One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world – making the most of one’s best”
This is the story of Mohammed Dahiru.
Adversity is normally an excuse to submit one’s self to the mercy of others, and worst still in the case of most of sub-Saharan Africa, disability is an excuse to depend on others for your daily bread. But some people have chosen to rise above that and doggedly preserve their dignity.
In a world, where even some of the able bodied amongst us have chosen loafing around and milking the resources of the system instead of applying their God given abilities to eke out a living, a few men, though with disabilities that obviously should normally put them at a disadvantage in a fast paced world like ours, have chosen to, against all odds, not sink to the depths of become a drag and a dreg in society.
Mohammed was born in Kano in 1978. He was born a healthy, bubbly, and vivacious kid. He cried normally like many normal kids, he ate and slept like infants should. Then misfortune struck. Mohammed fell sick. Unfortunately for him, his parents where to poor to afford the appropriate kind of health care for young Mohammed. The illness got worse, and in the end he lost his limbs due to complications. The sun of his future seemed to have set prematurely and it looked like he will end up like most of the other physically challenged people around him.
In 1982, Mohammed moved to Lagos with his parents, probably in search of greener pasture.
As he grew into a man, Mohammed quickly picked up ideas that instilled in him the need to survive on his own and to do so with dignity. Instead of going into the act of begging for alms, Mohammed decided to go into trading. He raised some money and bought pens. All along the Lagos Marina and CMS, Mohammed will, with his cargo of pens tied around his shriveled legs, crawl on the asphalt, weather it is wet or scorching hot. It didn’t matter to him if he made little or much, what mattered to him was that he made enough to feed and put a roof over himself and his wife and their child.
Fortune smiled on him, when one day, a passerby who has been seeing him ply his trade day in day out, felt very impressed and bought him a wheelchair.
Instead of Mohammed to see this as a tool for comfort, he saw it as a means of expanding his business. So from his meager savings he bought more pens and turned his wheelbarrow into a “Pens-on-wheels” shop.
Today, Mohammed serves as an example of the resilience of the average Nigerian. In the face of negative stereotypes, Mohammed, like many Nigerians strive to make an honest living, add value to their lives and add their quota to the nation’s development. They should be encouraged. If you pass the Marina and CMS, you can’t miss this hard working young man. When you can, stop by and say hi to him, it surely will go a long way. And if you, like the Good Samaritan who bought him a wheelbarrow, feel like encouraging him even further, please do not hesitate. You would by that have encouraged more physically challenged to make use of whatever they have left to earn a living in dignity.