Born in Badagry Lagos, Arafat lost one of his legs at the age of 10 in what appears to be a case of polio but he would tell you “enemies of progress” afflicted him with a disease.
Well, that is no more the focus because he has since moved on to make the rest of his life meaningful despite his challenge.
If you ply the Mile12-Ojota-Ojuelegba route regularly by bus, you may have been driven by him but you would never know that the danfo carrying you is being driven by a “crippled” man.
Asked to introduce himself, he tells you proudly, “I am a driver and a sportsman” then you are tempted to look down at his short dangling limb.
How does he do it? Bounce News needed a ride with Arafat to find out how. The story of Josa Arafat is one that validates the saying that impossible is nothing.
He is a man almost everyone knows and it took just a few days to get him to Bounce with us.
From Ojota to Ojuelegba to Costain and back to Ojota; from LASTMA officials to Police, agbero and fellow drivers, they all hailed him as “their man” throughout the exciting and humbling ride.
Arafat drives a bus with a manual gear system. His mastery of the skill shows years of constant practice with his right hand well trained to do most of the job.
With it he controls the gear. He holds the short dangling lower limb like a rod with which he presses the throttle and the brake.
He says: “Nobody taught me driving except God. I did not learn from anyone. It was like God telling me ‘nobody can help you, take this skill and help yourself’.
“I cannot stay at home waiting for someone to come and feed me.”
By the way, Arafat has won some laurels for the Lagos state in powerlifting but complains that his sports career has not been rewarding.
“I won a silver medal for Lagos state in 2012 at the National Sports Festival. Government said they would employ us but they did not give me the job.
“Since competitions do not come often, this is the work God has given me, so I use driving to sort myself out and secure my future,” he said.
Arafat also has some words for other physically challenged people who would rather stay idle in self-pity or beg for alms.
“To other people with disability like me, come out and work, stop begging. If you have hands and eyes, you can be a shoemaker, phone technician or do other things and still live a normal life; get married and have children.
“Try to help yourself. Your challenge does not mean you should sit down waiting for God. You need to move out,” he said.
Happily married with two kids and living a decent life, Arafat knows he has what many able-bodied people do not have and he is grateful.
He does not own his own bus. So, he currently depends on others who have a bus to give him to earn his daily pay. Of course, the vehicle owners take the bulk of the return.
Owning his own bus is a big dream but one that will make him more financially secure. He says if he gets a bus even on hire purchase, he has the capacity to pay back from his daily earnings.
Thinking you would never take a ride with a crippled driver? Well, Arafat tells you, “When you see others in the vehicle sitting calmly you would join them.
“Everyone that has entered my vehicles have all come out in peace and I pray nothing bad will ever happen.”