Though Meche Meche, as he is fondly called, is a diabetic amputee, he is certainly not downcast. He said he is an enigma and a man of many parts.
Born 60 years ago, this Nigerian is a polyglot, mechanical engineer, mathematician, shipbuilder and lyric tenor.
His private musical outfit, Meche Sings, is based in Abuja, and his choir, Koro Rosa, has over 160 performing voices.
He said the choir, which he formed in Owerri, Imo State to harness the talents in the country, is one of the largest private choirs in Africa.
Recounting how he became a one-legged man, Meche, who bared his mind through his response to a questionnaire via email, rather put it humorously, “This is a wonderful gift my father left for me in his will.”
According to him, his father died a diabetic person.
He said, “Man…this diabetes my father left for me… was aiming to take my life. The struggle was a helluva but it managed to take my left leg as its only trophy.
“I would have died! People `left Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Jets, Yachts, Castles as inheritance. My father, silver or gold he had none, but the little diabetes he left took my leg!
“Anyway, I am alive and neither was my soul or brain part of the surgery. I still am me; just missing a leg. I urge my friends not to be scared of visiting me. I still will console them. That is what I have been doing since October 22, 2012.”
He told that despite his condition, he had achieved a lot with his choir and was set to achieve more
He said, “The beauty about the choir was that the males would dress neatly in their suits whilst the females would do the same in their beautiful Elizabethan gowns, same hair style, shoes, bangles and bracelets.
“There were appearances for Presidents…I refer to foreign ones too, ministers, senators, members of the Assemblies, oil companies, banks, states and governors. The choir still exists but a bit on the quiet side, till I’m back on my feet again.
“We have translated our National Anthem to 10 Nigerian languages. Recorded and presented same to the government. The languages are Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Efik, Ijaw, Nupe, Tiv, Edo (Esan), Igala, and Idoma.”
He said he had privately been invited to perform for some VIPs, adding that he had also performed with the choir at births, deaths/funerals and weddings.
He recollected that the head-turner for him was the invitation to perform on the occasion of the Pope’s visit to Nigeria in 1998.
Meche stated, “I speak of the visit of Pope John Paul 2 to Oba in Anambra State. I sang and recall I saw the BBC, VOA, and lots of foreign TV stations recording! I was so happy and proud especially when I received calls from friends in England, Germany, the US, saying they caught a glimpse of the show.
“I learnt that up to 3 million Catholic faithful came to witness and participate in the Pope’s Mass! I didn’t count but even if there were only one million, that would make any Nigerian performer proud.”
He said his musical talent was another gift bequeathed to him by his parents apart from the diabetes.
He said, “At a very tender age, I knew I was not tone-deaf and enjoyed what I could do with my voice. I was in the choirs my mother and sisters performed in.
“I was good at remembering and recalling songs. This was from the age of four…I am now 60 years old. At the last count, I had about 3,915 songs in my head.
“Now, I am diabetic and this led to the amputation of my left leg in October 2012, making me one-legged. This was strange to me for only two days or so. I accepted it and changed my mind about not wanting to be happy and dying. I really did not care, but within a few days of the surgery, I realised how differently I felt, how stronger and better my body felt, then I did a mental re-negotiation for my life.”
Unlike other persons with disabilities, Meche wished to use his disability to positively affect the lives of other disabled persons.He added that might not be, however, possible without the help of the government and public-spirited individuals.
He said, “First, I may need help in the form of the government ensuring that physically challenged humans like I am have ramps built for wheel chairs in public compounds and offices. I shall in time take this up. If I had the resources, no human will be seen crawling on our roads. We really need to look after our cripples.
“I also need help to erect and resurrect a lot of things that I see would positively influence the physically challenged. A leisure and a career centre. This I can start with the best concert ever.
“With about 120 voices, a 60-man orchestra, hall hire, rehearsals, transportation, feeding, accommodation, attire, invitations and letters, payment of choir and specially invited performers, and press, it could be done.
“Someone estimated N100m. Another said N85m. I cannot estimate. We shall need as much as possible for wheel chairs (electrical ones too), crutches, walkers, helping with medical situations and bills including other special needs and medication for amputees, especially.”