Since hearing the story of Taiwo Lawal, I have come to the conclusion that there are far more than Seven Wonders of the World.
Her story is one of grit, bravery, devotion to purpose and ultimately triumph.
Taiwo is one amazing young woman who has gone beyond her circumstances, disabilities and even herself to create a world where the seemingly impossible have clearly become possible.
Imagine a blind lady who can do all you are capable of and even more, only this time, it is more real than imagined.
For Taiwo and her twin sister, life has been in no way a bed of roses, if anything, it has proven to be more of a mat of thorns and gashing spikes. The twins were born blind and can only tell of a childhood marred with tribulations and endless trials.
Their mother got pregnant after she was raped by a man in a village in Ondo State, Nigeria, who eventually absconded when he found out that the twins were born blind. Taiwo lived with the hurt for years until she decided to free her soul from the caustic clutch of unforgiveness. She didn’t know her father or where he was, she could only tell the circumstances of her birth.
She also remembers how traumatic it was growing up in the village and treated as scum, without good food, clothes or even family. Many times, she fell into ditches and people will look at her and walk past, despite knowing she was blind.
At birth, doctors had given the twins only six years to live. Her twin sister is now married with two children. But Taiwo prefers not to marry a blind person.
Inspite of her misfortune, the power lady has risen to show the world that a person is never defeated by his circumstance until he consciously decides to throw in the towel and give up on life.
Amazingly, Taiwo has found her passion in photography, oh yes photography. You wonder how anyone without sight can take up such profession. Now you know why I insist that there definitely are more than seven wonders of the world.
Well, like you Taiwo never thought it was possible until she took the decision that changed everything. “At the start, I kept wondering how a blind person could learn photography. I thought it was impossible. But the person who introduced me to it said it was possible. So, I agreed to do it.” The journey was tough at first, but in a short while, the wonder lady began enjoying the ride and all its perks.
She agreed to learn the art of photography two years ago. Now, Taiwo Lawal takes photographs like someone who has her sight intact. Or maybe she does, because real vision is actually not the ability to see with the human eyes but instead, the mind. For the eyes can only see what has been first created by the mind. Little wonder, her confidence, “whenever I take pictures, I know they would be beautiful, because I see them in my mind.”
Giving an insight into how she is mastering her craft, she explains that she uses her sense of hearing and touch to take pictures.
She says, “If I want to take a picture, I would go to where the person is, and feel his location; then I would communicate with the person to sense the direction, as the sound of the person tells me where he or she is.
“Also, if I want to take pictures of nature, I first feel the object by touching it, then move back and take the picture. When I touch a flower, for instance, I see the colours in my mind. I can also tell if someone is happy or sad, because I know it would be reflected in the picture.”
Why dare the queen?
“Some time ago in Ikeja, someone expressed doubt on the ability of a blind person to take photographs. Immediately, I took my camera and demonstrated to him,” she said, laughing.
Believe it or not, Taiwo is not just spinning her wheels or going through the motions, she is a master of her profession.
Before she got involved in photography, she had learnt some trades which included: bead-making and bag-making, which took her about four years.
Her photography has, however, been taking her places. Recently, she won an award at the International Day of Persons Living with Disabilites, which held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
“Lawal is the first blind photographer I’ve ever heard of She’s an inspiration,” said Mrs. Bitebo Gogo, Executive Director, Keeping It Real Foundation, which organised the event.
Also, last year, Lawal met American Joe McNally, a globally renowned photographer at a photography exhibition who boosted her courage even more, to pursue her calling unremittingly.
“When we discussed, he encouraged me to continue with my work. I was happy meeting him, because I never thought I would ever meet such important people. Now, I no longer feel bad because I do not see. If I were not blind, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today,” Lawal said, adding that she wants to pursue a career in photography.
“Taking pictures makes me happy. Also, it has helped me forget my past sorrows, when some people didn’t appreciate me and I endured a lot of insults,” she said.
Today, through the help of friends and her photography instructor, Mr. Seun Akisanmi, Lawal is well on her way to having the grand life she has always dreamt of.
Akisanmi, who runs the academy (Elophotos) where Lawal takes classes thrice weekly, described teaching her as both challenging and interesting.
Years ago, Lawal dropped out of the Pacelli School of the Blind in Primary Three because of lack of funds. Now, she is set to go back to school, graduate as a professional photographer and take the world in a dash.
If Taiwo who has never seen the light of day; or colour can do something of this magnitude what then is your excuse for not going after your dreams and having the life you’ve always dreamt of?
*Quotes culled from betterbext.com