Mr John Yekini became blind when he was just a toddler. Unknown to him, he would one day nurture one of Nigeria’s most ingenious musical products, Cobhams Asuquo.
Mr Yekini was a music teacher who served the Lagos State government for over three decades until his recent retirement.
He recently gave an interview to TS Weekend where he dished on his career, family, training Cobhams and challenges he has faced as a blind musician. Read a few excerpts from the interview below:
On his journey into music?
I started way back in the ‘60s. I had always love music. When I heard the sound of trumpet, saxophone or trombone, I get very inspired. When they brought an instrument then at the Pacelli School for the Blind, I decided I was going to learn music. But I was sent away because the authority said that I was too small. However, I had a deal with my music teacher to teach me privately. He would keep me in the store and I started learning the trumpet. I got good at that and went to the accordion, and from there I went to the piano. I was just going on until sometime in 1974 when I went to Scotland to study music. I came back and worked as a music teacher with the Lagos State government for 35 years. Now I am the music consultant for Federal Nigeria Society for the Blind.
His experience with Cobhams
Cobhams has always been a very intelligent person. When he came to the Pacelli School for the Blind, he wanted to learn the keyboard. I saw he was very good. He began to help himself. He went from us to Kings College and from there to the University of Lagos. From University of Lagos, he decided to take on music fully. Today, he is a great man and doing well. Some other visually impaired students that I taught are scattered all over America, Germany, and the United Kingdom etc.
What a blind person needs to excel in music
It is not only in music but also as someone to be reckoned with in the society. He has to accept first that he cannot see. The second thing he has to tell himself is ‘I have to work hard’. Once you have that ambition, you will go places. Even when people try to pull you back because you are blind and want you to stay where they will give you N50, till you die, tell them that it is not your portion. Your portion is hard work. That has always been my strength. I work hard and I am always willing to learn.
What he tells his students coming to terms with blindness
We tell them that they can do it again. To be blind is not the end of everything. Take a look at me, am I not successful? I am married with four children who are university graduates. What else do I want from life? I have a very good wife who is well read and she can see.