Monday , 22 January 2018

BLINDNESS: WHAT’S WORSE? by Ndubuisi Egwim

steve wonder

Several years ago while I was in medical school, I walked in for my pediatrics clinical exams, I prayed silently. I was quite apprehensive as I wondered what case I would meet and who would be my examiner. Would my patient be co-operative? Will I have time to finish the exam and type down a diagnosis before the time was up?

My fears were rested in a couple of minutes as my patient was assigned to me.

She was a cute 3 years old but her health challenge was obvious. Her left eye was almost bulging out with a tumor of the retinal part of her eye (Retinoblastoma). As I interacted with the mother, my heart really went out to the little girl especially knowing the fact that due to how late they presented, the tumor was so advanced that the treatment for her condition would be surgical removal of all the contents of the affected eye socket(exenteration) therefore leaving her blind on one eye. I felt it wasn’t fair that this little innocent angel would start out in life already blind in one eye.

However I was consoled by knowing that she could rise above her challenges and that there was something worse than being blind in the eye and that is the BLINDNESS OF THE MIND.
I was confident of this fact because as a freshman in the University, I was privileged to live for about a year in the same room with a middle aged man who was blind on both eyes. He was quite a jolly-good fellow who had made up his mind to make something out of his life despite his physical challenge. We all fondly called him “Oga John”.

He tape-recorded his lectures and got us to help him do the same for his textbooks and print materials. How did he write his exams? He carried an old type-writer to every exam or test he ever had in that Institution and with it he typed away. We served as his mirror to make sure he looked great. He would even laugh at us whenever there was no light and we tripped over things because he had mastered his environment without light. I was glad when he graduated with honors.

Through him, I was also privileged to meet other physically challenged people. On several occasions, he would come across a blind beggar and recognize the voice as one of his Classmates at the Primary School for the Blind. He would call out greeting them but knowing that he had taken his destiny in his hands. For him, blindness of the eye could not stop him because he had a vision, yes, albeit, not physical, he had a vision of the mind because he wasn’t blind in the mind. Such was his attitude that among his friends were Government officials in his state, Student Union Leadership, town hall executives, Dean of his faculty, lecturers and of course his fellow students.

3 years later,I was privileged to speak at a Rehabilitation centre & home for the Physically challenged. I cited Oga John’s Story as an example and many of them were inspired in no small measure.

One may be blind in the eye but something far worse is to be blind in the mind. If you tell a blind man that there is a ditch 20 meters ahead of him, he will understand and change his direction but a man who is blind in the mind may even go ahead and walk into it.

Leadership by people who are blind in the mind is obviously one without VISION. What better definition could there be? Such a Leadership will fall into the ditch but that’s not all: the real tragedy is that they will also lead their followers into the same ditch they fall. No wonder, the Holy Book asks “Can the Blind, lead the Blind?”
A Nation, Company or any organization that has no vision is headed for the ditch and it is only matter of time.

Listening to Cobhams Asuquo’s Music is so refreshing. In case, you don’t know him, he is a multiple award winning Nigerian Music professional with a powerful vision-no, not physical vision (He is blind in both eyes). He is very inspiring.

There have also been many other individuals in History who have gone ahead to prove to their generation that the Blindness of the eye is not the same as that of the Mind. Time fails me to tell you the stories of the likes of Helen Keller, who was a great speaker, activist, author and lecturer; Stevie Wonder, a musician of great repute; Louis Braille, who later invented the Braille for blind people and of course Governor David Paterson, who made history by becoming New York’s first Black and first physically Blind Governor in 2008.

Despite the fact that the burden of Blindness of the eye is quite high in some parts of Africa today, no thanks to Onchocerciasis, yet the real problem that has really plagued the continent for years is lack of vision. As high impact leaders and creative entrepreneurs, we must create clear cut visions and see farther than where we stand from the eyes of our mind. We can make a change in our continent. We can make a definite impact. Let’s Keep Hope alive.


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