Categories: Entertainment

I See Myself As Superstar Who Has Broken The Jinx – Yahaya Makaho, Visually Impaired Singer

Yahaya Usman, popularly called Yahaya Makaho, a blind singer who rose from being a street beggar to a famously known singer in northern Nigeria,spends time with some of his fans while wearing his trademark sunglasses in Kaduna, Nigeria, on September 25, 2019. PHOTO: Kola Sulaimon / AFP

 

Yahaya Makaho feels his way to the microphone before launching into a song for his new album at a recording studio in the northern city of Kaduna.

Blind since early childhood, the singer has overcome obstacles that often crush the dreams of disabled people in this region and risen from street beggar to star.

In the last four years his songs and music videos have become hits among the roughly 80 million Hausa-speaking Nigerians and broader West Africa.

“I see myself as a superstar who has broken the jinx associated with physical disabilities,” Makaho, 37, told AFP, wearing his trademark sunglasses.

Yahaya Usman, popularly called Yahaya Makaho, a blind singer who rose from being a street beggar to a famously known singer in northern Nigeria, sings while wearing his trademark sunglasses in Kaduna, Nigeria, on September 25, 2019. PHOTO: KOLA SULAIMON / AFP

 

“I have punctured the stereotype people have that once you are blind all you can do is take a bowl and go begging for alms on the streets.”

Life can be tough in northern Nigeria, where poverty rates and unemployment are high — and for blind people the options are usually severely limited.

Makaho — a nickname meaning “blind man” in Hausa under which the singer is widely known — has had to come a long way to record his 370 singles and three albums.

He lost his sight to measles at the age of three and was eventually sent away from his rural village to an Islamic school after doctors failed to heal him.

There he was told that begging was his best chance to make ends meet after he tried his hand at small odd-jobs and petty trading.

Yahaya Usman, popularly called Yahaya Makaho, a blind singer who rose from being a street beggar to a famously known singer in northern Nigeria,spends time with some of his fans while wearing his trademark sunglasses in Kaduna, Nigeria, on September 25, 2019. PHOTO: KOLA SULAIMON / AFP

 

“It hurt me to be always asking people for money. Begging kills the spirit and I decided to become a singer,” he said.

“I didn’t know I had singing talent, I just wanted to do something meaningful with my life and the idea of being a singer just popped up.”

‘Singer with a difference’

It has not been a smooth rise since that decision.

Makaho faced years of discrimination and discouragement before a wealthy fan decided to fund a recording session in 2016.

The singer has carved out a niche by focusing on the pressing problems that confront his fans in their daily lives.

With his soft voice he croons his way through lyrics that tackle ills such as begging, drug abuse and corruption.

“Yahaya Makaho is a singer with a difference,” said Ahmad Bello, a music critic and linguist at Bayero University in the city of Kano.

“People love his songs not just for the beats but primarily for the messages embedded in them which touch on burning social issues.”

Dwelling on sensitive subjects has proved problematic on occasion.

Makaho upset some in northern Nigeria’s blind community after he wrote two singles that criticised the widespread practice of street begging — often the only means of earning an income for the visually impaired.

“They ostracised me for exposing the ills of begging in my two tracks and dubbed me an enemy,” he said.

Makaho managed to resolve the conflict and has now established a foundation that provides school tuition, uniforms and brail books to help disabled youths get an education.

The singer’s fortune has soared and he now provides a comfortable life for his family.

He has made the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia and hopes to be able to build a recording studio of his own.

And as he racks up hit after hit, his success is providing an inspiration for blind people in his home region struggling to fulfil their potential.

“I’m fascinated by his songs which I find very pleasing,” said Hamisu Mohammed, who lives at a colony for blind people in Kaduna.

“Whenever I listen to Yahaya’s song being played on the radio I feel a sense of pride that he is one of us, the blind.”

Ronke Idowu

Disqus Comments Loading...
Share
Published by
Ronke Idowu
Tags: Hausa Kaduna Visually Impaired Singer Yahaya Makaho

Recent Posts

  • World News

‘Uncharted Territory’ As Bushfires Rage Across Australia’s East

    Dozens of bushfires raged out of control across eastern Australia on Friday, blocking escape routes for residents and…

1 min ago
  • World News

Trump Will Not Impose Tariffs On EU Cars – Juncker

  The outgoing president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said Friday he believes the US will not impose new…

15 mins ago
  • World News

Hong Kong Student’s Death Triggers Fresh Outrage

A Hong Kong student who sustained head injuries when he fell during clashes with police died on Friday, triggering a…

25 mins ago
  • World News

Tanzania’s Opposition To Boycott Elections Over ‘Cheating’

Tanzania's opposition party says it will boycott local elections later this month, accusing the government of impeding its candidates from…

56 mins ago
  • World News

Five Killed, 120 Injured In Iran Earthquake

  A night-time earthquake in northwestern Iran on Friday killed five people and injured 120, according to early reports on…

1 hour ago
  • Local

Reps To Investigate Alleged Non-Repayment Of $7bn Foreign Reserves

The House of Representatives says it will investigate the alleged non-repayment of seven billion dollars from the country's foreign reserves,…

1 hour ago