Habila Usman Maisamari was born and bred in a remote village in Kachia Local Govt, Kaduna South. A member of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) or Associate chartered accountant (ACA), M. Sc in Finance and Accounting student ABU, Zaria. Habila is a Deputy Manager at Federal Inland Revenue Service.
Meet Habila Usman as he shares his story with Inclusive News Network to encourage others.
JOURNEY INTO DEAFNESS.
In April, 1978 during Easter break while in primary 4, I was slightly ill and experienced acute headache. On that fateful day I returned from my normal routine, I began feeling dizzy and weak. On the third day, I opened my eyes to find myself on a bed in The Local Government General Hospital. I was being treated with different drugs till I lost my hearing. It appeared to me as if a precise diagnosis of the illness I suffered from was not known. I later realized that I suffered from Cerebro Spinal Meningitis.
I was on admission at the hospital for almost four weeks. The hearing loss was a gradual one. I also experienced tinnitus (buzzing in the ear). I began to experience difficulty communicating with the Doctors and people around. When I was discharged from the hospital, I was very weak and could not walk without support.
My parents gave me all sorts of traditional drugs recommended by people for three months with the hope of restoring my hearing but to no avail. Gradually I regained my strength. Later my uncle took me to Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Kaduna where my ears were washed. My hearing loss was diagnosed and a device called hearing aid was recommended but nothing was done any further.
Things had completely fallen apart for me. I could no longer relate with people without stress like before. To the best of my knowledge, never in history had our District witnessed such thing where a person will speak but not hear, let alone, in the village. Whenever I visited the village square, I was the subject of discuss. Most of the time people would split into two or more groups discussing my plight. Some would mock, some argued and some tried postulating solutions. A group would support the motion that I could hear, while another group would oppose that I was deaf and a yet third group would countered the argument with the submission that I was hearing but pretending not to hear.
Life became very bitter and unbearable even within the family. I felt that I was not better than a corpse, the only difference was that I could breathe.
After wasting several months at home mourning the pathetic loss, I informed my father of my desire to return to school. Upon my return to school, my teachers were very unhappy to see me because the news of the hearing loss had gotten to them. Some people dissociated from me. I merely existed in the class, I was not assimilating or participating because I could not hear. I could not get help from other pupils because my inquisition was regarded as a nuisance. Occasionally, when I made contribution in class, it was off-point and that would evoke laughter.
A lot of other humiliating incidents happened at school and at home. It made my father contemplated withdrawing me from school, however, my passion for education prevailed. The only person that provided me comfort during those days of distress was my great Grandma. She adjusted quickly to my being deaf and gave me a lot of inspiration, courage and joy. At her death bed, she told me that when she is gone, I should not be despaired. She committed me into the hand of God and blessed me.
ENCOUNTER WITH SIGN LANGUAGE
Few weeks after my Great Grandma died, one of my uncles took me to Kaduna State School for the Deaf. We met the pupils on assembly ground when we arrived. I was astonished to see the pupils communicating with their hands and I felt at home. The school was recently established and population was sparse. I was admitted into Primary 4 which was the highest class at the school. I immediately settled into the school for study without much hassle. With the help of other classmates, I learnt the manual alphabet in two days and progressed with my study.
After I completed primary 4, my desire for academics was noted by the Head Master and my class teacher a Black American. When Mr. Gabriel Adepoju, Principal of Kwara State School for the Handicapped (KSSH), visited our school, the Head Master pleaded with him to promote me to Form One as a motivation to myself and the students in the school.
At KSSH, I observed that the school was more advanced than my previous school at Kaduna. It was at KSSH that I learned great deal about life and sign language. Study in KSSH also gave me the privilege to meet many brilliant deaf students who were better than myself.
My brilliant academic adventure at KSSH was terminated in Form 2 when a crisis took away Mr Gabriel Adepoju from the management of the school. His dismissal resulted into unresolved issue between my State governor and the management of the school which interfered with my studies at the school. I was eventually withdrawn from KSSH and enrolled at a regular school called Government College, Kaduna. Despite being in a regular school, my progress was remarkable with no discrimination from teachers and students. Although, the absence of sign language interpreter was felt.
When I completed my secondary education, I processed admission to University of Ilorin to study Banking and Finance, however I was offered Economic Education. I didn’t take up the admission. Rather, I applied to Kaduna State Polytechnic where I sat for ‘A’ level called Interim Joint Admission Board (IJMB) examination. With my outstanding A’ level result, I secured Direct Entry admission into Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria to study Accounting.
When I submitted myself for screening exercise at ABU, the puzzled presiding Chairman of the screening exercise said to me ‘we have never seen someone like you here, although your credentials show that you are brilliant, but you are deaf, how are you going to cope?’ I smiled and thanked him for considering my ability ahead of my disability. I challenged the University authority to give me a semester of trial, should I perform well, I should be permitted to stay. If otherwise, I will leave.
Accounting classes used less verbal communication and the lecturer used the board, that eased off the challenge of learning. Many of my classmates were friendly and helpful. Although, I occasionally missed out important schedule and information which was one of the challenges I had at school.
To the glory of God, I graduated from ABU successfully. I immediately secured employment with Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) formerly Nigerian Electricity power Authority (NEPA) as Account clerk. Unfortunately, I encountered a lot of discrimination at work place. I vowed to surprise them. I registered with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and qualified as Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA) three years after. With the new qualification, I had no problem moving up the career front. I clinched an appointment with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and I resigned from PHCN. To the glory of God, I have risen to the post of State Accountant or Deputy Manager.
I am grateful to God that I am Deaf. Because, the deafness propels me to do more and not to see myself like I have arrived at any stage of achievement. I do not measure my achievement by qualifications but with the impact I have on my fellow Deaf people. I commit myself to advocacy and empowerment of Deaf people. I ensure that I use my position and exposure to help Deaf people secure admission into different institutions and I have pushed for the employment of some Deaf people. So also, any Deaf kids I get to know about in my District (village), I get them enrolled at Kaduna State School for the Deaf. I see my deafness as an opportunity to be a blessing.