Nigeria to U.S. Disabled Black Man Struggling (Book Review)

PNNscholar1 - Posted on 02 December 2015

This book is one of the first books I have read that tells raw experiences from a Black disabled male  viewpoint who have experienced discrimination and went on to achieve from Africa to America and doesn’t wrapped it up in a Hollywood ending because life is an ongoing struggle especailly for a Black disabled individual...


Blew me away and I thought as a Black disabled scholar that I was updated about books by Black disabled authors finally seeing Black disabled writers getting published most of the times writing about their lives however Chibike Ifechinelo Nwabude blew me away with his book, The Sad And Painful Journey of a Struggling Disabled Black Man..  Can you believe this is the first book i have the opportunity to received by the author and sat down to swallow it by a Black disabled author who has roots in Africa?


The Sad And Painful Journey of a Struggling Disabled Black Man starts in Chibike’s villages to cities in Nigeria describing his disability, Polio and how schools were not accessible to his college years and his continue struggling and discrimination in Seattle, USA before the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.  Although Chibike’s struggles goes all through the book,  he came from a supportive middle class family where his mom and dad seems to me embraced him as a Black disabled boy to a young man.    His struggles began very early not only in school facing inaccessible environment i.e. stairs, long distances to classes and kids attitudes but at home when his parents hired a home supporter that started to sexually abuse him.  Although in the book he described himself as a city boy and explained that the city is more accessible, the way he described the sense of community that sounded like family in the villages made me long for what he experienced.


Chibike tells us about the Nigerian civil war, the worst periods of his life.  In the three year period till today Chibike can’t tell us why the war broke out.  I can’t imagine being physically disabled teenage in a middle of a war!  At this part of the book, I went to youtbue  to learn about the war and was not surprise that it goes back to the British “empire” aka the government  benefited a lot from the war as we know the British was colonial master before Nigeria independence of October 1st/ 1960 all because the British wanted Nigeria’s oil.  His family's plan for their escape when they heard that the attacks were getting closer included Chibike going ahead in a family member's car cause they knew that he couldn’t run because of his disability.   My heart was on a roller-coster when he described waiting for his family in a refugee camp seeing people come but noticing it wasn’t his family.  Finally his family showed up.  I can’t imagine starting all over again, like housing, school and the physical state of the city especially for a young boy with a physical disability after a war.  He was lucky to come from a middle class family.  I can’t imagine being poor disabled after a war!  Just like the beginning of the war the end of the war was blunt like turning on a light switch.   My mind was like how can you go though that and the next day go to school but he did.

Of course being an American I thought at a point in the book where he is thinking about going to college in the US where his brother was that everything would be like a utopia even in back in the 80’s but damn I was totally wrong.  The amount  of discrimination that he faced from institutions college to employment made me reread the title again.  At the same time I could relate with his experiences in college where teachers were blunt by telling him he would never be a mathematician although he was passing his classes.

Poor Magazine would love the ways that Chibike continued his higher education and also providing for his family back in Nigeria and flipping the college system of pay first then take the class on its head.  When he was poor and used to signed up for the classes and at the last minute ask to take it for no credit so he could stay in the class.  After doing this many times to get credit to graduate he took all his classes with a written note from professors to the president of the college.  After a long back and forth he was granted his right to graduate.  Also many at Poor Magazine can relate to his shame of being on welfare but I just wish that Chibike could be in a Poor Magazine workshop that flip the script about this shame and the American’s capitalist thinking of pull yourself up by your boots strings.  I think he would benefit from Poor Magazine philosophy and so much more. 


Once again I thought the tides were turn for Chibike but no.  Like many Black/Brown people with disabilities in the US find themselves unemployed but if they do find employment they continue to face discrimination.  I was cheering for him when he got his fist job but the pattern of just raw discrimination on the job from White and Black managers was heartbreaking and some brought me back to some of my 9 to 5 experiences.  I can’t tell you how many times he filed an EOC complaint and he would win and then go on to another job to face the something.  Once again I looked at the title of the book and said ok it has to get better, right?  


The discrimination was not only in the workplace, as most of disabled folks find out that relationships are hard too and other things.  I can’t tell you what happened but the title of the book says it all.   What gave me hope is one he has wrote his story and two his strong family bond that really help him stay the course and his belief in God and his thrist not only to continue but to see that it is others that need to change and meet him where he achieve to be at.   


As a Black disabled activist born and raised in America one of my hopes before Chibike and I pass away is that we come together as Black disabled people not only in the US but worldwide and say hi, get to know each other that I hope would lead into supporting each other.  I know that is a big want but what the hell you live only once on this earth.  It might be hard but we, like Chibike Ifechinelo Nwabude, must write and publish our truths!


Go buy his book here

His Facebook page


By Leroy F Moore Jr.


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