Many people with health and disabilities challenges in the Ghanaian society and elsewhere would often give up in life and resort to begging.
The story here is different in the case of Ignatius Seynale Seweh, a- 52 -year-old visually impaired man.
In fact Mr. Serweh has demonstrated and confirmed the statement that “Disability is Not Inability”.
I knew of Seweh cotton (not personally) when he contributed to my URA Sunrise Morning Show and any programme of interest on Ura Radio the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation through phone calls before I left for school in 2013.
I returned from school in 2016, and Seweh had become a panel member of the morning show run by my colleague. I became more curious by his zeal and tenacity of purpose.
One day I entered the studios to cast news on the hour at 10 am when the show had ended and lo and behold here was Ignacious Seynalie Seweh, my first time encountered with him.
What! a visually impaired man? I booked an appointment with him to hear his story. I first put him on my Personality Profile, a weekly magazine program I hosted where he mentioned poultry farming as his source of living.
To see things for myself I decided to pay him a visit to his poultry farm at Pusu-Namoo. The 52- year visually impaired man has about 1000 layers.
I watched him fed the fowls. I said to myself “Disability is Not Inability” I admired Seweh’s passion in his trades so much. I started recollecting about some disabled persons in the world who contributed to the world economy.
Imagine the world of science without Stephen Hawking, the Olympics without Tanni Grey Thompson and the horrendous thought of television without Stephen Fry.
The works of these extraordinary people proved that disability does not mean inability, and that everyone can contribute in his or her own way to community development and the nation as a whole.
The only thing that must be considered and worked at is the mindset that once, one is disabled, he or she cannot contribute to society.
Narrating his predicament further, the 52 man said, he was born to one Peter Apuri and Mary Emile Pealore from the Mayoro community in the Kassena Nankana Municipality of the Upper East Region both of blessed memory.
He said he was born and raised up in Tamale of the Northern Region, he attended the Bagabaga Junior High School and later gained admission to the Tamale Technical Institute, now Tamale Technical University to pursue agriculture engineering intermediary and diploma respectively and completed in 1996.
Mr. Seweh stated that after obtaining his diploma certificate in Agricultural Engineering and doing one year National Service, he was gainfully employed by the Ghana Cotton Ginnery and posted to Wa in the Upper West Region in 1987 as a mechanic.
He stressed that by dent of his hard work at the Wa office, he was selected among six workers to partner with a Consultant from the United States of America to establish the Cotton Ginnery at Pusu-Namoo in the Upper East Region.
He noted that upon completing the work before the scheduled time the Senior Management of the Company decided to maintain him and others at the Bolgatanga office to see to the fullest operation of the new set up. Married to Madam Salima Yahiya with three issues,
Mr. Seweh said he lost his sight in 2007 whilst still in active service with the office of the Upper East Cotton Ginnery until the Company folded up in 2011 under the administration of the later President Atta Mills of blessed memory.
Regarding the lost his sight, Mr. Seweh stated that, it was one afternoon when he decided to drive his own private car to his hometown Mayoro in Navrongo when the accident occurred.
A motorist also from Navrongo on top speed hit him his car bonnet in front, the windscreen of the car did not scratch yet he suddenly went blank inside the car and that ended his sight.
He indicated that he was initially admitted at a hospital in Bawku in the Upper East Region where the first, second, third and fourth eye surgery operations were performed upon him in succession leading to him losing his sight.
The visually impaired man who stated that the government did not pay the end of service benefits of the workers after the Pusu Namoo Cotton Ginnery where he was working folded up, indicated that despite his physically challenged nature, he managed to organize his colleagues from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions to go on hunger strike which drew the attention of the government at that time to pay the end of service benefits of the workers.
Before becoming visually impaired he said he was the National Secretary of the General Staff Association and was very abreast with industrial relations issues.
Through this rich experience he managed to organize the workers to go on hunger strike which led President Atta Mills to invite them to Accra and assured them that they will be paid which he did.
He commended the media for the role they played. He said but for the Media nobody would have heard of their plight.
It was even reported by the BBC that a blind man led the strike in Ghana for nonpayment of entitlements.
Mr. Seweh said he decided to go and peruse diploma in education at the University of Education, Winneba after the Cotton Ginnery got folded up and when he completed he applied for a job at the Ghana Education Service but was turned down.
He decided that if the state will not employ him he must create the employment for himself since he had the passion for poultry farm, saying he leant a bit of the trade from his father.
He said he is able to make profit from the poultry farm to make a leaving though things are not all that rosy; he detests being looked down upon as a physically challenged person.
Mr. Seweh stressed, the poultry farm is paying and he does not leave on charity. He however, will not reject any assistance genuine to enable him expand his poultry farm.
The 52- year- old visually impaired who had employed a boy to assist him on the farm, recalled one of the major challenges he encountered in establishing the poultry farm when he applied for a loan from a bank and was turned down but never gave up in establishing his trade.
Attempted suicide by the Visually Impaired Man
He indicated that, he attempted drinking the bottle of insecticide, one hot afternoon to end up his life, when one of his friends called him and asked him to prepare and go with him to town on motorbike to town for refreshment rather than staying always being indoors.
This he said saved his life and broke the culture of silence as his friend made it a routine. He then, realized that God had begun the process of re-integrating him into society.
Mr. Seweh, however, said, what actually define his moment of life was when he saw two visually impair kids at Akropong Akropng School for the Blind charting and running to the dinner hall and later on managed to swerve the pillars that were in front of them.
The 52 –year- old visually impaired stated, these two kids who have a long way to grow in life and were not bordered about their predicaments, how much more he as a grown up. That period became a defining moment for my life.
Lessons to learn from the 52 year old visually impaired
He did not give up in life like many other physically challenged persons would have done.
Apart from him leading the above mentioned hunger strike, he defied all orders and attended and completed tertiary education. He was not bordered after the Ghana Education Service refused to offer him employment.
He created employment for himself. In conclusion, it is very important for all physically challenged persons irrespective of their situations to learn from Mr. Seweh and also establish some trades for their living.
There is also the urgent need for government and other stakeholders to support physically challenged persons like Mr Seweh who had begun something on his own to grow.
Story filed by Emmanuel Akayeti