1. Samuel


You have to overcome your disability. If you are always putting it on yourself – saying I am disabled, I am disabled, I am disabled – it means you are disabling yourself. A disabled person is someone who is dead.

I was sent to the military hospital for treatment for two and a half years before my mother sent me to school. When I started school, if the bus didn’t come to pick me up, I had to find someone to carry me on their back. If I didn’t get anybody, I had to crawl by myself – especially if exams were starting. Let’s say it was about a half a mile.

I had a lot of friends – many, many friends. They would even come to play with me. I am very clever and jovial, so they liked me. I played ball with them. Imagine a disabled person playing football with abled people. If you saw me, you would marvel, and you would like it. My best position was right wing, but sometimes, I had to go and score a goal, so sometimes I played striker. It is unfortunate that our type doesn’t have the facilities to continue playing. Then I would be able to say that I am a footballer.

During those times, my mother didn’t want me to feel any embarrassment, so she always wanted to be near me in everything I did. All of my siblings also helped me. They washed my clothes, they used to fetch water for me, and they were the people who served me food.

When I completed school, I had to find a job. In those days, I was a young guy, and I was hard to handle. Because of that, I had to give myself to an elderly man who was very grown up, so he could caution me if I did wrong. If I happened to be with only my peers, they would not have controlled me. They couldn’t have. So I gave myself to an elderly man. He was the one who trained me. I took care of his shop. By the time my master would come in the mornings, I would have cleaned the shop and would be waiting for him. I spent one and a half years with my master. My master was very, very kind to me, and he showed me everything. After that, I established my own shop.

Did you experience any forms of discrimination as a result of your disability?

I’ve had a lot, but we don’t have to count it. We don’t have to use their words to be part of our situation. If we say we are going to think about them, we give weight to them. Why should you think about those things?

How do you think we can improve the lives of people with disabilities in Ghana?

We can. We can if we say we can. If we say we want to do it, we can. If you are near a fellow disabled, he will tell you about his problems and how to solve them. He is the one who can tell you that. Approaching them, interviewing them, chatting with them will let them come out and tell you what is within them. But without getting to them, just throwing some coins down for them will make no difference.

What is your hope for your own life and for Ghana?

The hope is that by your determination, you can make it through your own hard work. If you are getting toward something that will help you, then it means you have hope. You know that in the future you will do something and have something to acquire, but if you are sitting idly waiting for someone to come fetch water for you to drink or somebody to put food in your mouth, then where is the hope that you are hoping for? If you are sitting down waiting for some miracle, then what are you doing? You cannot just sit down and say you are waiting for the water to rain. It is only the rain that will rain. If the water comes, then put your bucket there. That will be your miracle.

Do you consider yourself a senior man who can advise others?

I do.

What would be your advice if a person with a disability came to you?

All I would have to tell that person is that you shouldn’t think too much because it has already happened, and there is nothing you can do. You cannot release it, but rather think about the way you will move yourself forward because you are also a human being and a part of this society. If you have not gotten into your inner being and seen the person that you really are, you will always feel that you are disabled. Meanwhile, maybe you are not.

Do you believe that people are disabled?

You have to overcome your disability. If you are always putting it on yourself – saying I am disabled, I am disabled, I am disabled – it means you are disabling yourself. A disabled person is someone who is dead.

You are an inspirational person.

Yeah. I am.

Return home to the portraits.