Posted by News Express | 6 November 2022 | 446 times
Elijah Akinyemi who retired as a permanent secretary in the Ogun State Ministry of Education despite being visually impaired is a father of five from the Ifo Local Government Area of the state and he has spoken publicly on how he reached the pinnacle of his career in the civil service against all odds
According to him, he was not born blind but "lost my sight when I was two years old due to measles. At that time, it affected many other children and people, but I was fortunate to have the blessing of blindness. Many died from measles in the neighbourhood. My parents knew it was measles but with the traditional values of those days, it was believed that it could be fixed.
"So, a lot of money was spent and it almost made them (my parents) bankrupt. I am even assuming that that might have been one of the causes of the divorce of my parents when I was about six years old – when people became hopeless, wondering how a blind person would function and be up to standards with their siblings. These are just internal psychological things that might have happened; that is why I said it might be the probable cause," he said.
He added that rather than affect him socially, he considers his situation a blessing, adding that "I see blindness as a form of blessing because it came at a time when I had not been used to the sense of sight. So, I functioned like a child without sight and the community was proactive with me, made sure things were out of the way and accepted me. But the wariness of how I would function and have a livelihood was there.
"That brought so much despair to people in the community until a traditional healer, Gbangbayawu, who was moving from one village to the other circumcising boys and placing tattoos on children came and gave the good news that there was a school for the blind that I could attend but people did not believe him because they wondered how a blind person could read, more so, my parents could neither read not write. He insisted that we should give it a trial and eventually, through the recommendation of the general hospital at Ikeja, I was admitted to the Pacelli School for Blind Children in Surulere, Lagos," he added.
Describing his experience at the school, he said being sightless did not affect him when compared to a man who could see but suddenly lost his sight, adding that what really brought the trauma was moving away from his village setting to the urban centre in Lagos.
He said, "that took me some time to adjust to but eventually, I did. At Pacelli, we all were blind pupils and mine was no different. It was easy for me to read in Braille. It is the only format I have known; it is just like a child learning to read. It was a boarding facility and we spent most of our time at school. When I went home during the holidays, initially, I stayed with my dad and, later, stayed with my mother. My education there went smoothly. The feeling people in my neighbourhood had about me was very positive. In those days, a child who spoke English was highly regarded. I was given Braille books to read and when I did before the villagers, they thought it was magic. So, they started believing in me; I was allowed to attend community meetings. Even when villagers were harassed by security agents, I came out to defend my people, so they felt they had someone to help move the community forward.( Story adapted from The PUNCH)
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