Dammy Akintade is a physically challenged gospel musician. Recently, the pictures of his wedding ceremony went viral because of their peculiarity. After the pictures went viral, some Nigerians reacted to them negatively. In response to these negative comments from people, Akintade decided to shun the naysayers by emphasising that his wife married him out of love and not because of any material possession. In this interview, he tells the story of some of the challenges he faced before he met and married his wife.
When did you start singing professionally?
I started about 15 years ago. I get invited to minister in churches.
Aside from being a gospel musician, what else do you do?
I am a graphics designer, a content creator and a web administrator.
How did you lose the use of your legs?
It happened when I was young. I wasn’t able to get a proper polio vaccination. The main source of my disability is polio.
Tell us some of the challenges that you have experienced because of your disability.
One major challenge that I have had to deal with is accessibility and social inclusion. Most of the public buildings and facilities’ in Nigeria are not accessible to people living with disabilities. Also, some people believe that people who are disabled are beggars.
Didyoueveraskyourparentswhypoliosingled you out from all of their children?
Yes, I was always inquisitive. I used to ask them but I am happy that I have a strong support system in them.
When it comes to disability and relationships, being discriminated against is inevitable. Before you finally met your wife, did you have challenges in some of your past relationships?
Even people who have functioning legs have challenges with their relationships. It is normal for people to face challenges. I have been rejected by some girls before; some parents discouraged their daughters from marrying me because of my physical challenge. I am a very social person, so ladies were always around me but when I try to take the friendship to the next stage, they discontinue. I have been in several relationships before I met my wife and a few of them did not work out because of my disability.
Is there anyone in particular that really hurt you?
Yes, one of them was very painful. But later on, I found out that she wasn’t a responsible person. She had another man other than me. It took a while for me to recover, but I moved on.
How did you meet your wife?
My wife was never my girlfriend, we met in church. I was a music leader in the church so she was under my leadership. She was the only single lady in my team. She was like a friend and sister to me; she was never my girlfriend. When I was coming out of heartbreak, I figured that I had to settle down, so without looking further, she came to my mind. I considered the fact that she understood my purpose in life. I had to ask her about her opinion on marrying someone with a disability. When I asked her, she told me that she would pray about it, after a while she accepted and we got married. There was no courtship between us.
What inspired you to counter what people were saying about your marriage?
When the pictures of my wedding went viral, a lot of social media users said all sorts of things about my marriage. I am not really bothered about what they said but I had to address that particular speculation about my wife marrying me because of money. The reason why I did this is that I didn’t want them to poison the minds of other people who may want to marry people who are living with a disability. Some of them were insinuating that she married me because she didn’t have a choice.
How did you feel when you saw this negative comment?
I was actually happy because I saw it as an opportunity to correct the mindset of the naysayers. I saw it as an opportunity to add value. I was not moved at all. My wife wasn’t moved also because she has dealt with comments like that in the past. She has faced the toughest hurdle of dealing with negative comments from family and friends.
Did you have challenges with your in-laws accepting you initially?
Yes, I did, it was like a battle. I went through a lot to get my beautiful wife. At some point, I even told her not to worry about the relationship anymore. I wanted to break-up but she didn’t oblige. She insisted and emphasised that it had to be me. At some point, her parents warned me to stay away from their daughter, coupled with the fact that I am Yoruba and she is Igbo and she is the first daughter. They told me to stop calling them; they even wanted her to relocate from where she was. Her mother accepted me before her father but she couldn’t make any decision without her husband. Eventually, I had to face my fears by paying her parents a visit. When they saw me, her father accepted me and he gave his blessings. It was miraculous, it can only be God.
How did you feel after this?
I thought I was dreaming.
Based on your experience, what advice do you have for people living with a disability?
My advice is that they should have a positive mindset about themselves. Identity is very important. The way you see yourself is the way others see you. I only accept the term physically challenged in official settings. I don’t think I am physically challenged. Also, they should strive to become a better version of themselves every day. I have a passion to empower people with disabilities. I have plans to establish an NGO to achieve this goal.
You planned your wedding during Covid-19, how did this affect your ceremony?
COVID-19 was a blessing in disguise; it reduced the amount of money I spent. My wife wanted a simple wedding as well.
You are Yoruba and your wife is Igbo, how has married life been for you?
It has been exciting; we are getting to know each other better. Being married to an Igbo lady is awesome, it has been fun. My wife understands a bit of Yoruba. The food aspect is also interesting; the Igbo culture has a variety of soups compared to the Yoruba culture.