Winning in spite of


Ifirst heard of Yinka Shonibare when I stumbled upon his headless art sculptures during a random Google search. I was so intrigued with his work that I got lost in hours of research, drinking up every piece of info on this very talented creative. Every painting, sculpture, photograph­y, film and installati­on he created was geared towards examining race, class and cultural identity. From the headless sculptures to the oversized Nelson’s ship in a battle and his creative use of brightly coloured Ankara fabrics, it was all so fascinatin­g.

What struck me about him was how effectivel­y he communicat­ed his art despite his disability. He decided that being in a wheelchair wouldn’t stop him. And to be honest, one can only imagine how difficult it was for him. While working on this edition, someone mentioned that if Yinka Shonibare were resident in Nigeria, he wouldn’t be as successful, and my response was that it is debatable considerin­g we have produced the likes of Cobhams Asuquo and Yinka Ayefele, who are great success stories in their own right. But that conversati­on also served as a reminder that when you have a physical disability, you have to fight harder than most of your peers to reach your goals. And you have to fight even harder to prove that you got there because you deserved it, not because the world felt sorry for you. When you think about it, success stories about persons living with disabiliti­es are often reduced to singular charity narratives and inspiratio­nal speeches, regardless of how hard they strive to be more than that. As someone who grew up with a very close relative who is disabled, I know this to be true.

The sad truth is that in these parts, disability per se is still considered a barrier to self-enhancemen­t and making significan­t contributi­ons to society. And that is largely because we live in a society that is subconscio­usly and consciousl­y socialised to have negative attitudes towards the conditions of persons with disabiliti­es. Yes, there are discussion­s around inclusion which often centre on infrastruc­ture and equal treatment without recognisin­g that equality cannot be achieved when people are not starting from the same point.

This is a conversati­on that would go on for a very long time. It’s easy to assume that because you are understand­ing and supportive towards people with disability, discrimina­tion never occurs, and full equality prevails for everyone with a disability living in Nigeria. That’s just wishful thinking. Disabled or able-bodied, we all have the power and responsibi­lity to make society more inclusive for everyone. From living experience­s to listening to the disability community, let’s all strive and do what we can to make our world more accepting of people

Konye with disabiliti­es.



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