After the death of his father in 2012, Nwaji Uche Fidelis who is the second born in a family of five felt he had to assist his mum and the family, so he took up the responsibility.
In the process, Fidelis who was preparing for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination, WASSCE got involved in a fatal road accident which led to the amputation of one of his legs, within a year after his father’s passing. Thereafter the incident, he was taken to a General hospital but unfortunately, they had a strike the following day and the leg was not treated.
Sequel to that, he was transferred from one hospital to another and it went on like that for three weeks until the leg eventually decayed. After spending 3 years in the hospital bed, Fidelis had no choice but to repeat the classes he missed and since then faced day-to-day stigmatization from many people till date, most of these slurs according to him come from users of the bluebird app.
The bitter experience of Fidelis Truth was never an impediment to his burning passion to live and make an impact as far as he still breathes, so his condition never restrained him.
Today, with a beautiful smile on his face, Fidelis is living every day of his life by exploring his full potential to the best possible stretch he can without any fraction or question of whether he has a disability or not.
Presently, he is a 300level student studying ‘Economics’ at Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko, AAUA Ondo State. Like Africa Giant, he’s still very much burning in his dream of becoming a global hip-hop/Afrobeat/fusion/pop and rap artist that will impact lives and give hope to many other people.
‘We Are Not Aliens’
Reacting to the question of what people think of people like him or anyone who has a disability in them. Fidelix raises the assertion that people living with disability are not aliens and affirmed that they are people who also have their complete bodies from birth, and maybe along the line, just like his story, something may have happened and made them a subject of their various predicaments.
“Nothing makes us different from others, we breathe and they breathe, we eat as they eat, we fight like they fight, as far as I am concerned, everyone has a disability in them as far as they are human. I feel the people calling us these names are passing insults on us and we all don’t have a strong heart to hold it. Instead, they should show us love and look at things with different perceptions.
“We are not different from other people and losing a limb just means I have bigger challenges to fight now and this time around is physical, so we are like every other people doing basic things and we can do everything every other person can do.
“3 days ago, I posted a picture with a tag using the caption ‘What do you see when you look at me.’ on Twitter. Ordinarily, when people see a random person posting something like that, I don’t think people will slide there or talk about it but when I posted it, the words were crazy, mad on Twitter and depressing at the same time hurting.
“They were trying to get in my head but none of them got to me anyway. I was reading them and laughing. Most people are just outrageous and they don’t realize it yet. We live in a country where we are brought up in a very harsh way and in this harsh way we transfer it to other people not minding if they can hold it. We don’t even have that remorseful heart anymore.
“I later posted the video of what I have gone through and people were now saying sorry for what they have said but I was like I don’t care. That’s not going to change who I am. We live in a society that is crazy, that people want to get rich, having their means. The government should make sure that there is protection for the physically challenged people, it’s like a case of a dog living with lions”.
Has your condition ever affected your relationship with people?
“Yes, it has affected my relationship with people, over and over time. I got a friend that we used to be friends with back then but I’m not friends with them anymore, so I have new friends now. On my own I don’t let people discard, neglect or disregard me, so what I do to anybody that appreciates me is that I stick with such a person.
“Someone that sees me for who I am and what I am. I don’t let people get into my head, I don’t let people make me feel inferior. If you can’t see beyond what you see, then you don’t see at all. So I don’t let anyone do that to me. It really does affect, everytime, every day, seconds, minutes”.
Why I stand fit on stage
“One of the things that keep people going is my passion. I have a future, dreams and visions for myself and if I don’t accomplish them I won’t stop. I don’t feel timid, so I do stand on my feet because I still want to be a figure of hope to others. I want people to look at me and say they want to fight more.”
Speaking about the interest and participation level of people with disability in politics on and off campus, Fidelis emphasized that attaining any position in school politics is up to every individual and not an issue of having a disability or not.
“It doesn’t matter if the person is physically challenged or not. At the same, getting involved also depends on the mindset of the people. As far as they can handle it, then they are good to go. People will talk, but regardless of that, they should let nothing hinder them. Do what you want to do, life is short, people should explore whether they are physically challenged or not.”
What’s the idea behind your Twitter post?
“My idea behind it is that physically challenged people are not disabled. I am very sure you can’t walk as fast as I can, you might be able to run faster than me but you can’t walk faster than me.
“There are still people that have two legs and I can run faster than them. For me, what I mean is that we are not disabled, they should not refer to us as disabled people. Imagine someone walks up to you and says you are disabled, how would you feel?
“So, disability is in the mindset not in the physical look, the fact that you look at me and you don’t see me beyond being a physically challenged person shows that person has a disability in you, that’s what I tell people, it’s as simple as that because everyone, if well examined have a disability in them.
The Ebonyi-born artist released his first track titled “Naa Your Love” which featured Vicky in 2017, then released his second track “God is Enough” on Oct 1st, 2018 which was aired on one of the prominent radio stations in the United States in 2019. His latest track is titled ‘God Is Good.
What keeps you going?
“The experience has been so crazy. It has been the lord and love from my family, especially my mother who keeps motivating me. Even on days that I’m not motivated. I will keep going forward because the world needs to hear about me. So no matter the stigmatization, I cannot be stopped.”
‘In Every Disability, There is an Ability’
Falodun Oluwadamilola Reuben is a physically impaired person who lost his sight in his secondary school days, today he is Senator representing physically challenged students at the Student Union Government and also the Caucus leader of all, Hall of Resident in Adekunle Ajasin University.
‘There might be no sight, but I have Vision’
“I’m a visually impaired person but there are some extraordinary things God gives to me that I can do without sight and I will do it perfectly. There might be no sight, but I have visions. Therefore, we rejected the word disabled tagline because that is not who we are. I’ve always believed that I am not a disabled person, I’m only having a physical challenge.
“We have called on people around the world not to use the word disabled for us and instead they should refer to us as people living with disability, PWD. We believe that anyone can live with a disability as long as any part of your body is not functioning right, there is a disability in that. We also want the media to help us correct that impression because the word disabled to us is a very ridiculous name.
“The media is the one who can help change the frontage by taking off the word disabled. Although, It is obvious that we have a challenge just as everyone has what they are battling with too. We strongly need their support, people living with disabilities also get molested too and if things like this happen, who are we to call upon?”
Were you born this way?
“I was not born this way, this situation came suddenly when I was in SS2. I managed through my O’level before the situation became worse. After my O’level, I couldn’t do anything anymore as the situation didn’t warrant me to be on the spot. So, I started to attend blind school as I was made to know that people with disabilities can still make it in life.
“This made me proceed in my education but I was relegated back to primary school because I have forgotten many things and I was placed in a rehabilitation center. We were taught how to conjoin two words together and others. I proceeded to secondary school at government college Ikere where I met a lot of people as the same teacher teaches both the blind and the sighted, both people with disability and those who are not.
“I proceed to obtain a jamb form for further education. I wrote WAEC and Jamb which I passed. That was why I was able to navigate myself to Adekunle Ajasin University. Many lecturers ask me what I was looking for during my first time in school. There was a particular man, Dr. Bayo saw me going out after the lecture and I mistakenly hit him and I apologized and told him am blind and since then he has taken me as his son who is always there for my problems and solutions.
“Some of my colleagues in school believe my condition of blindness is contagious, it takes the glory of God to cope. When I need any assistance, I consult friends who help tell people about my predicament. Many will ask questions about how I cope with school, tests and exams, it has just been God”.
‘Ingredient for rituals’
Reacting to the awry dogma and assertion that people with disability are ingredients for rituals, Ruben noted emphatically that whether PWD or not, ritualists use anyone.
“Although, there are situations where these evil perpetrators always specify by demanding special people like someone who has lost their sight, someone who is crippled or anyone with a hunchback for example.”
‘Politically, A Pace Setter.
In AAUA, Falodun Reuben has got himself a seat in a remarkable cadre for the leadership position in school politics where he currently serves as a Senator and a Caucus Leader.
He disclosed that his interest was stirred up after he studied that people with disability are not always carried along with the decision-making process.
“I asked myself if people who are contesting don’t have two heads and their admission letter is not different from mine, so I decided to get involved in unionism. I obtained the form and on the day of the manifesto, we came out and everyone presented their agenda, we did our primaries and we eventually went to the field for our election and by the grace of God, I emerged as the winner, and this is my second term.
“When I joined, I remember some were saying, what is he looking for? What is he going to say? Today, I am the Caucus leader representing the Hall of Residence in AAUA. However, I was able to make things easy for myself, when I’m supposed to talk, I talk and when I’m supposed to keep quiet, I do so and people give me little respect for who I am. I believe that, in every disability, there is an ability, so it is left for every individual to prove themselves right”. He added.