•First class graduate loses sight while writing Maths textbook
•I need help to publish my book, he says
By Romanus Okoye
The world of Edward Nwabunwanne, who made a First Class in Mathematics, is dark amidst the blaze of the sun. For a man that was not born blind but now relies on the old images in his memory to recall how his wife and children look, it is indeed a solitary life. Nwabunwanne can hardly differentiate between night and day. He feels the heat of the sun but doesn’t see its light.
Edward Nwabunwanne, 40, was born hale and hearty. He had no sight defects. It was on October 7, 2013 morning that he woke from sleep and could see nothing but darkness. Doctors said that he suffered retinal detachment due to over exposure to computer screen light.
“I thought my world had come to an end,” he lamented. “How could I transit from seeing with two eyes to stark blindness?”
Nwabunwanne hails from Umuoba Anam in Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State. He studied Mathematics at the University of Maiduguri where he graduated with First Class in 2003. He also earned a Master of Science at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, in 2007. He is married with five children – one boy and four girls. He was a Mathematics teacher at a private school in Asaba but was laid off when he lost his sight.
Despite his seeming state of hopelessness, Nwabunwanne’s passion for Mathematics remains strong.
He told the reporter: “I am passionate about Mathematics. In fact, it was the desire to put my mathematical knowledge in print so that my generation and generations unborn could benefit that cost me my sight. I started writing the Mathematics textbook in 2000. It has 1014 pages and took me till 2012 to complete. To ensure that it was error-free, I revised it for over 100 times. It was in the process of editing and proofreading the book, which has gotten the Federal Ministry of Education’s approval for publication, that I suffered this fate. What I need now are publishers that will do the publication and pay me royalties so that my aim of writing it will be achieved and my effort will not be wasted.”
Mathematics might be the nightmare of many, but Nwabunwanne is definitely not in that legion. He asserted: “Apart from my general interest in Mathematics, I have found a solution to a particular Mathematics problem that has bedeviled Mathematicians for many years; that’s the divisibility of seven. In fact, in many Mathematics books, including one being used by Senior Secondary School students, the authors usually skip “7” in the chapter on divisibility. But I have found the solution and only need a forum to demonstrate it for the world to see and recognise it, as one of mathematical formulas. I got the solution when I started meditating on it and within a year of this blindness, I got it.
“Mathematics is not difficult, though many will not believe me. The solution to Mathematics is to first of all admit students, who are interested in learning the subject in the university and not people who could not secure admission to do other courses. This is because when people are forced to study Mathematics against their passion, they do not do well at the end of the day. This is because they will not have the staying power and persistence required to learn Mathematics. And even if they managed to graduate, they grudgingly teach the subject. And because of their fragile background, they cannot teach the students well and it will continue to have its boomerang effects.
“Secondly, there are no good Mathematics textbooks. Most of the ones they have were economically written. For instance, some Mathematics problems that require about ten steps to solve are solved with just five steps, thinking that the students will understand. But they don’t. So, there is need to engage people with passion to teach Mathematics. Good textbooks should also be recommended. And thirdly, the parents need to encourage their children to do their Mathematics homework regularly themselves with capable guidance.”
Even though Nwabunwanne detests begging, he told the reporter that he wasn’t a happy man. He said: “Since I lost my sight, it has been a different world altogether. While people take notice of me and assist me; many just mock me and make some depressing comments. But I cannot turn to a beggar. It will amount to disgrace to my education. God has blessed me with inherent talent, which I have developed through education. What I need is little help from people. I believe strongly in my ability to still contribute to humanity. People are surprised that I still write my letters, using mental pictures and my wife will type it for me. I also write on blackboards skillfully, using the same method such that you can hardly notice that I am blind and when I get to the bottom of the board, somebody will help me clean it.
“Moreover, God did not make me blind but He might have allowed this to happen to bring out other hidden talents in me. This is because when I lost my sight, I went to a hospital in Lagos where I was told by the doctors that I suffered retinal detachment and required about N700,000 to correct it. I did not have such money so I went looking for it. And by the time, I got it about six months later, they said that it was too late. They explained that it was supposed to have been done within a week of the occurrence. But I continued searching for solution. And through the Ministry of Health, Anambra State, I got through to the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, who approved the payment for my medical bills to undergo an operation in India in 2015. Unfortunately, it was still unsuccessful.
“So, I returned and continued my search for solution in churches and spiritual places. In the course of the search, many have taken advantage of me. Meanwhile, it has been difficult to survive. It is my wife that has been sustaining the family through her petty trade. Even my family members that I had good relationship with before my predicament all abandoned me except my immediate elder brother, who also lost his job due to the insurgency in the Northeast of Nigeria where he was teaching. Now, my children cannot go to school.
“However, I do not subscribe to begging and will be glad to complete the publication of my book. God gave me an inherent talent that I can sell with little help from well meaning people.”