Government needs to listen to persons with disability – Akpeji

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Augustine AkpejI is a multi-instrumentalist, a music producer, a voiceover artist and a Disc Jockey (DJ). He is also visually impaired and he is the first blind DJ in Nigeria. Recently he won the AID Talent Hunt Competition in Abuja. In this interview, he spoke with IMPACT NEWS on his experience and journey into the entertainment world. Excerpts;

Who is Augustine AkpejI?

I am ApkejI Agusutune, I am a musician, a multi-instrumentalist, a producer, a tech-enthusiast and the first blind DJ in Nigeria. I create applications for people with visual impairment. I also try to assist person that has issues with technology especially people with disability.

How did you come about your interest in entertainment?

Entertainment is a very wide thing. I love music since I was very small. I love anything sound since I was very small. So I think that will be the best line for me to go into.

Did you attend any school to hone your skills in these areas?

Most of all these things I can do today no one taught me how to do them. Rightly said, I went to school. I am in my final year in the University studying Mass Communication. I went to School for the Blind; I went to Federal Government College, Janikin, in Lagos. Now I am attending Dominican University in Ibadan, Oyo State. All these things I leant them myself. I leant them all by myself especially pertaining to music and sound.

I play eight different instruments, the keyboard, the solo guitar, the drum set, the talking drum, flute, the clarinet, the saxophone and the trumpet. If I see an instrument today, give me two weeks I will give you a perfect job on that instrument.

You are a student of Mass Communication, why the interest in that course?

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I am a voiceover artist. I produce jingles and I voice them. I love radio a lot because all my line is towards that area.

You said you are the first blind DJ in Nigeria…

According to research and what I know. We might have blind DJs but I know I am the first to use the wheels, they call it Turntable.

How to you come about being a DJ?

If you try to tell me I cannot do something I try to prove you wrong. In 2008 I was strolling with my friend and she said she had a party that night. Normally I know I cannot mix as at that time, so I told her that I can be her DJ for the event. She said my visual impairment would make that impossible. So that was the challenge I needed. Later I got a friend’s laptop and started practicing, before you know it became part of me and I have been pushing hard.

Considering your disability, what has been your experience in the entertainment industry?

Musically, I just believe we learn every day. Sometimes even when I go for programmes I don’t see myself as a professional, I just see myself as someone who can do something. So I just sit down until am being called to perform.

Music to me so far there is a bit of accessibility. When it comes to DJing there is this narrative about persons with disability that we cannot do anything. Sometimes when I bring out my laptop to mix, they look down on me that when other DJs are using wheels, you are still on virtual DJ. I can use all these instruments but because there is actually no means of me getting them, It’s really discouraging.

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What has been the challenge?

That is just one of it. When you go for programme they look down on you. They paint that stigma that you cannot do something where as you can do it. I do tell people that don’t judge me by my look, you can judge me by what I deliver.

What has been your greatest inspiration?

Well, I inspire myself, if I listen to someone’s mix tapes I try to practice it and bring out something good for myself.

Do you go to outings to play?

I go to clubs to play. The only thing is that I don’t have the equipment. Notwithstanding, I still push on. I play for clubs. I also play for occasions.

Considering your enormous talent, have you exposed yourself to any talent competition?

I did. Which is the recently just ended AID talent hunt. That is the only one I have done. By the grace of God I came out the winner of the competition. When I got there, I put all I could do aside and learn more.

What are your plans for the future having come this far?

First thing first, I want to change that narrative of persons with disability can do far better than people that are able. I try to do that through all that I do. I want to train people that are visually impaired to do all that I can do, even programming. Visually impaired people try to run away from programming.

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ApkejI Agusutune
ApkejI Agusutune

Our society rarely gives voice to the disabled, how to you overcome this challenge?

With all that I do, that narrative will be change. Like I said, they try to look at us as person that cannot do anything, but by what I do, am very sure those stuff will be change.

What is your advice for people with disability that would rather depend on hand outs from others?

When I was growing up there are words that I use to say to myself. One of them is ‘never give up on the things that you think you can do’. Every individual has imbedded talent.

Growing up, how has the society being helpful to you?

The basic that happen here in Nigeria is negative stigma to person with disability. I am the kind of person that even when such is being painted on me, I don’t listen to it. I don’t look at those things. Rather I try to push myself up. All thanks to my parents, I don’t think the government has done anything for me.

What do persons with disability expect from the government?

To listen to us. We need to be listened to. That is why I am out here to change that narrative. If they don’t see what we can do they may not listen. The only thing I cannot do is to drive a car. We need a listening ear. They need to ask questions from persons with disability.

As a DJ and an entertainer, do you have any project you are working on?

I have been releasing mix tapes. I recently released on my blog. I do a lot of mix tapes.

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