Blind African Student Causes Trouble

It still hasn’t rained here on the Gulf Coast of Florida so, while I continue to enjoy the lovely aromatic orange, grapefruit and jacaranda trees, I continue to suffer from exploding skull syndrome.  In addition to the feeling that pressurized air pumps into my head through some invisible hose, I also feel as though someone has inserted a Buck knife just above my left eye.  So, I have few, if any creative thoughts this morning and, like yesterday, will republish an article that came across Blind News about a troublemaker.

An article that ran in, titled, “Ghana: Student Politics At Legon: Blind Student Stirs Up Controversy,” describes the efforts of a blind student to get himself elected to a student government office.  I think the article demonstrates how far the “troublemaking” of an individual can go to raise awareness and of the value of proportional rather than winner-take-all balloting.  The run-off election was to occur yesterday and I haven’t seen anything about the results yet but, whether he won his race or not, he has certainly educated a university.  Also, I feel that any blink with the nickname “wicked scorpion” should be a friend of mine.

Ghana: Student Politics At Legon: Blind Student Stirs Up Controversy

By Sulemana Braimah

Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra)

“I WANT to prove to all that disability does not mean inability.” This has been the crusading philosophy of Mr. Jacob Adongo, a blind third year Political Science student of the University of Ghana, Legon, who is leaving no stone unturned to capture a key student leadership position for the next academic year.

Controversial as he may be, the blind student put himself up to democratically battle against two able-bodied ladies and a male, for no other position than that of Secretary to the Students’ Representative Council (SRC).

When he launched his campaign for the position, many students described him as a joker since, they wondered how he could dream of becoming a secretary while he was still completely blind.

But after a few days of campaigning to students from lecture hall to lecture hall and from one residential hall to the other, his oratorical skills, confidence and exposition of visionary policies for the enhancement of students’ welfare, caught the hearts and admiration of numerous students.

Sooner than one could fathom, Mr. Adongo, known among his supporters as “Wicked scorpion” had become the sweetheart of many and virtually a student political czar.

To many, it therefore came as no surprise when, after the counting of ballots on Wednesday evening, it emerged that the Wicked scorpion had dribbled and displaced two of his competitors, a male and a female and denied the leading contender, Pearl Adaku Asomaning, a long-time crusader for the position, of the mandatory 50% plus one vote, that she required to snatch the position, thus forcing the election into a run-off.

Pearl, as Adongo’s competitor is popularly called, is an affable third year student of Mensah Sarbah Hall, who maintains that she is the right material for the job and has intensified her campaigning. She is riding on her campaigns and the near-win support that she garnered for the first round.

Mr. Adongo told The Chronicle yesterday that he loved to be presented with an opportunity to cause surprises and prove a point. He said he was glad that his competitor for the second round of polls, slated for tomorrow, got more votes than him in the first round since the situation has created an opportunity for him to cause a surprise by, as he put it, “snatch it from her.”

“I have had the opportunity to get my message clear to the students since I had a very short time to campaign during the first round. I have now been able to clear all misconceptions and doubts that people had about my capabilities to do the work of a secretary,” he confidently told the paper.

Asked about what he had done differently from his campaigns for the first round, he said he was now going to prove the cynics wrong by practically demonstrating from lecture hall to lecture hall, how the computer can be used to take minutes of meetings.

“In fact, I told them in my campaigns that I will be resorting to the modern technology of using the computer to take minutes but many were those who thought it is not possible. Thanks to the run-off, I have had time to prove it. In fact, on Tuesday (today), I will be demonstrating that from lecture hall to lecture hall to the students free of charge. You can also cease the opportunity to witness and watch my exclusive, free-of-charge demonstration of the usefulness of modern technology,” he boldly said and comically added, ” you don’t need any special shades like the eclipse shades to watch my wonders, my brother.”

He again pointed out that, apart from proving to all, his ability to take minutes or write for that matter, he had also referred students to Article 22 of the SRC constitution.

This article, as we found out, mandates the Executive Officers of the SRC, that is the president, vice president, secretary and treasurer, to appoint a vice secretary at the first meeting of the General Assembly (Students’ Parliament) whose responsibilities shall include taking of all minutes of meetings, being in charge of all internal correspondence of the SRC, writing letters to invite members of the General Assembly for all meetings and acting in the absence of the secretary.

Mr. Adongo’s message has caught up with most students who have now been certain about his ability to do the work. Most students who spoke to the paper said they did not vote in the first round but they would be voting tomorrow because of Adongo.

“In fact, we will want to prove that as an intellectual community, we respect the rights and abilities of the disabled in society. We will also want to be the first to set this record of showing respect for the disabled in consonance with our status as the premier University of Ghana,” most students suggested in their comments.

Mr. Adongo was the boys’ prefect of Wa Methodist Junior Secondary School, Entertainment prefect at Wenchi Senior Secondary School and a member of the Committee that drafted the National Youth Policy in 2003.

Last semester, he contested for the position of Organizing Secretary of the Junior Common Room (JCR) of the Akuafo hall of the University and lost narrowly. Later on, the JCR awarded him for being the most active participant in student activities of the hall.

Meanwhile, the race for the presidency was also forced to a second round after the young and diplomatic Sammuel Awuku of Commonwealth Hall managed to deny the popular and politically experienced Lord Hamah also of the same Hall, the opportunity to have a first round victory.

Other two contestants from the Commonwealth Hall and another two from the Legon Hall were thrown out of the race in the first round.

Mr. Hammah, who rode on the wheels of justice to get himself back to the institution after an Accra High Court nullified his dismissal from the University, appears to be ahead of his counterpart with his philosophy of radicalism as opposed to diplomacy being preached by Awuku.

Rumours about attempts by “some powers that be” do disqualify Hamah from the race have generated some concerns among students but the real interest is in the race between Adongo, the blind positivist and Pear, the optimist.

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I'm an accessibility advocate working on issues involving technology and people with print impairment. I'm a stoner, crackpot, hacker and all around decent fellow. I blog at this site and occasionally contribute to Skepchick. I'm a skeptic, atheist, humanist and all around left wing sort. You can follow this blog in your favorite RSS reader, and you can also view my Twitter profile (@gonz_blinko) and follow me there.

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