By Salisu Yusuf
Musa Abubakar, 29, was born a full-sighted child in Daura, Katsina State. He came from a low-income family, though his mother teaches at a primary school. Her job helps her support a family that lost their breadwinner 18 years ago.
At 9, Musa started feeling some discomfort and strain in his eyes. When his mother took him to a hospital, he was diagnosed with “retinitis pigmentosa,” a rare inherited degenerative eye disease. Initially, he witnessed vision decrease and impairment, especially at night or in low light. While Musa went through this predicament, his father was bedridden with a terminal illness. So, he was loaded with the dice at a tender age.
At 11, he lost his father and, later, his sight. Life had taken its toll on him as he grappled with going to school, looking for a guide and contending with walking with a blind cane. Musa felt lonely, isolated and disillusioned; he needed a company that proved elusive. Sometimes he would want somebody beside him with a gentle nudge, but nobody was around to whom he could unburden and escape from his loneliness. So he started meditating on an escape route.
Later, Musa discovered that education was the only antidote against loneliness, boredom and disillusionment. So he went back to school. In the beginning, his classmates served as his guides. However, social stigma forced him to opt for a blind cane as his guides were insulted or maligned daily. Whenever he reached class, his classmates would take notes and dictate to him. His mother had attested to his precocious talent; he demonstrated extra guile and quick-wittedness during his childhood.
After his primary education, he also joined another conventional junior school, obtaining a junior school certificate with flying colours. His potential was realised when in 2015, he joined Katsina School for the Blind. He learned how to use his “embosser typewriter” to take braille (a form of written language for the blinds, in which the characters are represented by raised dots that are felt with the fingertips). He also learned to use his emboser printer to convert conventional texts into braille for easy manual reading. He artfully mastered the skill of manual reading. Whenever I visit him, I am bewitched by the power, beauty and manual dexterity of his tactile reading.
Musa Abubakar completed his ABU diploma in English Education at the College of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Daura, with a merit pass in 2020.
His academic activities were wonderfully exceptional; he didn’t only surpass many full-sighted coursemates, but he mastered a good command of English during class presentations.
While studying for his diploma, Musa proved exceptional and combined conventional and unique learning methods. He used the braille writer to take notes, a recorder to record the lecturer’s voice, and would later use the braille printer to write his notes and unorthodoxly use the braille writer to convert longer texts into braille for easy manual decoding.
Musa is currently a 200-level undergraduate of English at an NTI degree satellite centre in Daura. He weaves baskets and local chairs to earn his daily bread and support his education. He can teach and perfectly write on the board. He can also assess his students by converting their works into his embosser and grading them. He’s also computer literate.
Katsina State Government should not leave this talented blind man to waste. Instead, he should be employed so that his intellectual treasures are explored. His likes shouldn’t be left to beg. They should, like his braille, be converted to help the human cause.
Salisu Yusuf wrote from Katsina via firstname.lastname@example.org.