This is not a pity story; this is a story of hardworking Nigerien immigrant who solely depends on the upper part of his body to support his wife and six children.
Yahuza Muhammadu is a 45-year-old man who lost movement in both of his legs at the age of three, shortly after an ailment his mother wrongly diagnosed as malaria for a week.
Yahuza migrated from his home nation because the part of Niger he comes from is predominantly occupied by farmers and he didn’t have the luxury to be a farmer.
Before settling in Ghana, he had lived in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and Togo for a year each; selling wares on the street as he is doing here in Ghana to make ends meet for himself and his family back home in Niger.
Yahuza was particularly excited about migrating to Ghana for two reasons- one, to have the chance to play football on the National Amputee Football team, and secondly, because of the peaceful atmosphere and the welcoming nature of Ghanaians as he had heard from people he knew who had been here, so he wanted to bring his whole family to stay with him.
Unfortunately, he could not achieve his dreams of playing for the National Amputee Football team, because the training was a bit too strenuous for him but he has not given up on his dream of bringing his family to Ghana to live with him.
“I lived in Benin, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire for a year. I wasn’t begging for money in any of those countries, I was selling on the streets. My friends told me about Ghana and how peaceful it was. I am also very current about happenings in other African countries.
“I watched a lot of television back in Niger and that was how I found people who were physically challenged like me on TV playing football. I have always loved football. I trained and played football for a while when I first got to Ghana, but I couldn’t keep up, because of my age plus I had a family who depended on me,” he said.
Yahuzu lives at Madina alongside people with disabilities just like him who beg daily for money.
Upon asking him why he didn’t choose to beg like the others as it is much easier; just sitting, depending on your disability to make some money.
He said he doesn’t think his disability reduces him to a beggar, adding that he is no different from anyone else working hard to make a decent living.
He believes that everything is about a positive mindset, a will, drive and that with Allah anything and everything is possible.
On a good market day, Yahuza sells three sacks of the GFJ washing powder and two on a slow day.
After Yahuza wakes up at dawn for Fajr prayers, he goes back to bed and is back up around 7:00am. He then gets ready and heads out to the Madina market to get his first bag of GJF washing powder.
The police and the traffic wardens assist him to cross the busy road daily.
He gets to his selling spot, cleans up the place, set up and arranges some bags on the pavement. He then picks up the bags, puts one on his head and two on his legs and weaves through traffic, shouting, “Yes OMO” “Yes OMO” (Every washing powder in Ghana is referred to as ‘OMO’).
“I decided to sell the washing powder because of its unperishable nature and the fact that it is easier to store. I have shops at Madina market I buy from. At first I used to buy and carry two sacks of the washing powder to the Ritz junction where I sell, but I realised carrying two at a go slowed me down, and I didn’t want my movement to offend any driver, because the drivers are very considerate and patient with me, so I opted to carry one, when it is finished, I go back for another,” he said.
He mostly moves about selling when cars are in traffic waiting on the traffic lights to move.
Around noon, when the sun is blazingly hot, and he is dehydrated and nursing a slight headache, he leaves the washing powder with some of the hawkers he sells with, heads back to his abode which isn’t far from where he sells to pray Dhuhr, the noon prayers. He then rests for a bit, finds some food, and after that, he is back to his hustle.
Yahuza said some of the people who buy his washing powder are not people who really need it; most of them buy it to appreciate how hard he is pushing through his adversity to earn a living.
Yahuzu told me that aside from the money he makes from what he sells, he always gets extra from people who tip him out of sheer admiration and pity.
“I am grateful to Almighty Allah and the generous people of Ghana, I know for certain that some of the people who buy from me, are not really in dire need of washing powders. Most of them go like, “hey Abochi, how much ?” I tell them 20 Ghana Cedis, they pay and just as they about to leave the give me an extra two or five Ghana Cedis. After that comes compliments,” he said.
Yahuza spends 12 Ghana cedis on breakfast, lunch and supper every day.
He sends money home to his family every two to three months, during Ramadan, Eid’ ul Adha and Eid ul Fitr.
The oldest of his children, Yusif is in a higher institution in Niger, with the others in English and Arabic institutions. He sends money back home to support their education.
What Yahuza desires most here in Ghana is to acquire for himself a permanent National Identification Card.
During the two days, I spent with Yahuzu, it was very evident that he was quite popular, respected and admired for his will to look past his disability and make a decent living for himself and his family.
By: Farida Yusif | Aberniemanga@gmail.com