How Nigerian blind mechanic Murtala Shuaibu earned fame after revealing secret about how he works

Mildred Europa Taylor July 11, 2023
Photo of hand tools (Wikimedia Commons/Mark)

Nigeria’s Murtala Shuaibu was driving a car in 1996 when he became blind. He was already a mechanic before the unfortunate incident but was usually physically ill. Treatments given to him may have affected his sight, he told the Punch Newspaper last month.

“I started to have blurred vision in both eyes. Initially, I thought it would go away but it got worse. One day, while I was driving, I lost my sight and could no longer see with both eyes,” the 55-year-old mechanic and father of two who lives in Kano told the newspaper.

Having lost his vision while working as a mechanic, he could have resigned to his fate but he chose to work on his limitations to make something of himself. And thanks to the encouragement Shuaibu received from his friends and community members, he decided to go on with his work as a mechanic on the Gwagwalada Expressway, Abuja, where his auto workshop is.

But to repair cars as a visually challenged person is difficult if not impossible. So to adjust to his current situation, Shuaibu started training his nose, ears and hands to detect faults in vehicles. He told the Punch that he mastered car parts with his hands and attuned his ears to the sound of engines to enable him to detect when there was a problem. “That is why if I hold a spanner in my hands, I can tell its size and use my hands to chart where I should apply it,” he noted.

The visually impaired mechanic further adjusted by relying on his nose to sense if there is a fault in a vehicle. As time went on, his ears became sensitive to deciphering what is wrong with any car he is working on while his hands were able to adapt to changing automobile parts with “minimal assistance”.

“When you bring your vehicle to me, I will ask you to start the engine and then I listen carefully to it. When you rev the engine of a car, and something is wrong with it, if you listen carefully, you will hear some abnormal sounds that will emerge from it. Mechanics know this. There are times I ask the person patronizing me to open up the bonnet and I will use my hands to decipher or check what I think may be wrong.”

Popularly known by his community as “the blind mechanic”, Shuaibu’s fame recently traveled beyond his community when a TikTok user who happened to be one of his clients shared a video about him, which has been viewed over 80,000 times.

Shuaibu said he has been in his job for more than 30 years, working on cars like Toyota and Honda and getting positive feedback from car owners who are often shocked at how he detects faults in his condition without any difficulty. Still, there are those who trust his capabilities. Others also try to underpay him or argue with him when he tells them what their vehicles need in order to be fixed.

As one who lives in Kano with his shop in Abuja, his other challenge is traveling to be with his family in Kano, which is 423 kilometers away from his shop. To see his family in Kano, he usually goes with friends. Currently, he also hopes to get a means of transportation that he can use to go and meet his clients when their cars are faulty rather than waiting for them, he said while advising young people with physical disabilities not to be discouraged but to always recognize their potential and encourage themselves.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: July 11, 2023

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