We have all heard the wise quote that says, there is ability in disability, which simply means that being disabled or physically impaired doesn't mean an individual can't achieve what they desire with hard work and determination.
However, there was a time when people thought a wise quote like that sounded ridiculous, a time when human beings still believed that anything out of the ordinary was supernatural or a taboo.
During the 1940s to 1960s, many people in Nigeria believed it was strange for someone who is visually impaired to be educated like others who could see. They had thought being blind made you unable to compete with others, until Bitrus Gani-Ikilama showed them he could.
Bitrus Gani-Ikilama was born in Donga in Takum local government area of Taraba state, in 1944. Despite being the bind son of a farmer, Gani-Ikilama completed the three tiers of his education against all odds.
At the time there were no schools for the blind and little Gani-Ikilama was the only blind student in all the schools he attended here in Nigeria. He had attended his primary and secondary school in Gindiri, Plateau state.
It was even said that as a young student in secondary school, he had done so well in his Cambridge exams coming out with an A in his history exam.
After secondary, Gani-Ikilama gained admission into the London School of Physiotherapy in 1963. He successfully obtained his bachelors degree after four years in the prestigious school and came back to Nigeria in 1967, the same year he graduated.
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The young man had been had been advised not to come back home due to the fact that Nigeria was at the brink of going into civil war.
However, Gani-Ikilama wanted to give back the knowledge he learned oversees to better the people of Nigeria. He came back and git himself a job as a physiotherapist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
It was gathered that he and his fellow medical practitioners later became a big help at treating war victims during the civil war.
In 1973, he moved to Zaria, where he joined the Ahmed Bello Teaching Hospital medical practitioners. He later became the chief physiotherapist at the teaching hospital in Zaria.
The first visually impaired Nigerian man showed the world he could do anything and even paved the way for people like him. He not only completed his education, he also made sure he lived like any other man would.
Gani-Ikilama got married to his beautiful wife Taiwo and they had six lovely children together. He died at 66 on Sunday, February 20, 2011, five days to his birthday.
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