By Mbah Beryl Anwie
Yaoundé, Centre Region
Disability is when someone is born, or in other cases due to one reason or the other such as health complications or accident, the person becomes deaf, dump, blind, and crippled. Statistics reveal that, about 10 percent of Cameroon’s population constitutes people living with one or more of these disabilities.
Now what do you think about people living with disabilities? Probably you think they are already defeated, excluded and cannot stand the test of time, or perhaps you think they are just the same as those not living with disabilities. If the later is your thought, then you scored a hundred percent!!!!!
In recent times, people living with disabilities have proven their worth in all aspects and domains of life: doctors, lawyers, ministers, pastors, teachers, journalists, and the list continue. One of such persons is Somb LINGOM. The handsome gentleman who pulls a huge audience and fans with his vocal, language and style over the Cameroon Radio and Television, CRTV, has been blind for over 27 years ( I know some people are perplexed with this fact)
Jeanpascal Somb LINGOM was born as a young promising man with his sight in Yaoundé, Cameroon on March 24, 1980, second child in a family of two. He began his early primary school days in Yaoundé but unfortunately, I mean only unfortunately, he lost his sight in 1988 due to measles. However, being blind was not a stumbling block for Somb LINGOM, especially when education and success are concerned.
After losing his sight, he was sent to the Rehabilitation Institute for the Blind, Buea where he got his First School Leaving Certificate in 1995, continued to College Adventiste where he obtained his O and A ‘levels in 1999 and 2002 respectively. Somb did not end here; he enrolled into the University of Yaoundé 1 where he got a degree in Bilingual Series in 2005, a Masters in Linguistics in 2007 and a Masters in Socio Linguistics in 2009. As if that was not enough, Somb pursued studies into the Advanced School of Mass Communication, ASMAC (University of Yaoundé 2) where he defended and obtained a post graduate diploma in Journalism in 2010 and as a man who lives in the era of technology, Somb equally did an online studies with the University of Manitoba, Canada where he earned yet another post graduate diploma in Translation in 2015. At the moment, Somb told this reporter that this is not his end as far as education is concerned. “I must end the ladder” he said.
Jean Pascal Somb LINGOM is a man who well knows the challenges of life, reasons why he always kept himself busy and working. “I didn’t just gain recruitment into CRTV like that. I have been doing several internships and voluntary services without pay, do free services like translating theses for students, and lots more. I dropped applications in almost all institutions I could think of such as CRTV, SONEL, SNH, CAMTEL, and many others. CRTV first called me for a 3 months probation which was renewable just once, and after the 6 months, I was confirmed fit and finally recruited in 2011. So I think my hard work landed me where I am today and will take me higher, I hope” he told this reporter.
Because he who wears the shoes knows best where it pinches, Somb has engaged in several activities and organizations all in a bid to help his peers equally living with disabilities. For example, he is president of Stitching Fakkel 2000 Cameroon, a Holland based organization which aids people living with disabilities, especially the visually impede.
Notwithstanding, Somb admits that these successes were not just achieved on a bed of roses. He faced several challenges ranging from social, occupational, educational, economy and financial challenges. Some stereotype persons would hardly make good friends with him, there were no specialized schools and teachers for the blind in his secondary and university studies, no particular policy put in place by the government to help the physically challenged especially the visually impede, his parents gave preference to his sister who they thought will be the bread winner of the family(contrary, because today the sister is an unemployed nurse), and he had to work extremely hard to prove himself worthy.
When asked what keeps him going, Somb said he has self confidence and believes he will make it. “Trust in whatever you are doing, even when you fail, try again. In fact, I have 3 key concepts in life: discipline, hard work and God’s favor” Somb insisted.
To conclude, Somb advises and encourages his peers living with disabilities to believe in themselves because to him, that is where success begins. ‘’They should never doubt their capacities, be positive and understanding with others because they too have a great role to play in the society’’. For the parents, Somb encourages them not to relegate and hide their disabled kids. ‘’They should give them equal rights, education and even more attention towards them because everybody has a talent, Somb quoted from the parable in the Bible Matthew 25’’.
On the part of the government, Somb says they have a major role to play in helping people living with disabilities. “They should give equal rights and have a disability approach in the policy. Just like gender opportunity, disability opportunity should equally be taken into consideration. Specialized secondary and university centers should be built and most importantly, disabled persons should be represented at top levels of the government like the senate, parliament because disabled persons have actually proven worthy” Somb concluded.