Why do you bear the name New Yorker when you’re not from New York?
I started answering New Yorker when a friend of mine bought me a new bike. Then, a plane was flying above us at the same time, so we just said this is our plane flying to New York. So when I left there, I wrote New Yorker at the back of the bike and that was how the name became a house hold name in Benin City. Infact, people outside Nigeria know me as New Yorker and I act like a New Yorker now. That is why I always advise anybody who is disabled not to feel ashamed, but mix up with people and make friends. Don’t allow people to intimidate you because you are disabled.
As I am now, a lot of people love me.I got married but my wife left me because I don’t have money. I have three children but since she left, I have been coping well with the beautiful children that God gave me: two girls and a boy. I don’t feel disabled each time I see my children. They go to school and mix well with other children. If you are disabled, don’t lament too much. All you need to do is thank God for your life, give joy to people around you, tell them that your disability is not a problem to you. I always have fun with people particularly girls and I am a happy man.
How did you become crippled?
My mother told me that when I was a baby, I woke up one morning and shouted. They rushed me to hospital and gave me injection. They said it was convulsion. It was that injection that affected my waist. They said it affected my veins ane ever since,I couldn’t walk. I was crawling until my mother said I should stop crawling . It was when I grew up that I asked my mother why I was disabled. That is why people should be careful where they take injection. If it was now, I would have filed a suit against the hospital that did this to me. Look at me on a wheel chair but I don’t like to lament about it. Perhaps that is the way God wants it to be and I cannot question God.Was it because of your condition that your wife abandoned you?
I don’t really know. All I know is that when she was with me, I tried to make her happy. She was a weight lifter when I met her and we fell in love. She had three kids for me and I was shocked when she left me. Maybe, it was the advice of friends but that was foolish. If you are a woman and you love a man, you don’t allow friends to deceive you. Obviously, her friends might have mocked her that she was married to a cripple and foolishly, she forgot how we loved each other and our three children.
But I believe she is regretting her actions now because few days ago, I went to the stadium as usual and somebody told me she came to my house and was calling the children but they refused to answer her. They said my children told her that she is wicked for abandoning them because their father is a cripple and that she should go and leave them alone. That was what happened. Friends have been helping me and my children are okay. My first daughter is 12 years old, the second one is seven years and my son is six years old.
How do you cope with sports?
The truth is that I love sports a lot but it did not favour me. I was the first black man to play wheelchair tennis in Africa. At that time, I was doing my best to sensitize people on the need to play wheelchair tennis but wheelchairs were not available then. I even told my coach then to help sensitize our people so that the rich people will help us provide wheelchairs but he did not show any commitment and that dream died. That actually demoralized me as a sportsman but today, you can see people benefiting from it. I played basketball, wheel chair tennis and table tennis but sports did not favour me.
I prayed to God to give me what would favour me because as the first disabled sportsman in the stadium here, I should have known my level now. I was a power lifter and some of the people I trained then went to America and the UK. So at a point, I said all my friends have travelled, I am the only one here. I decided to quit the game. Infact,after that time, when people would be training as weight lifters, I would be laughing at them but before I knew it, one of them travelled to America . One even got a presidential Award of MON. But I still give thanks to God because he knows the best. My only prayer now is for God to bring somebody that will help me train these children because I want them to be educated.