‘I made a new hand for my younger brother’

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This is a story of how after a life-changing accident, a man made a new hand for his young brother.

On New Year’s Eve, 2017, Ubokobong Amanam picked up what he thought was a firecracker. But it was actually a firework which exploded blowing off two of his fingers.

When his family tried to get him a prosthesis, they could only find white-skinned or wooden ones.

So his elder brother, John, a sculptor who’d previously worked in special effects in movies, decided to step in, changing both their lives.

Ubokobong says when the firework blew two off two of his fingers, he became depressed. “My family tried ordering some prosthetics from Germany but they didn’t match my skin colour.”

“So many prosthesis out there are white skinned,” says John Anaman, his elder brother. “The black man also needs prosthesis.”

Without a prosthesis that matched his brother’s skin colour, John who is a special effects sculptor in Nollywood, set out to create a hand that matched Ubokobong’s skin colour.

“A realistic African hand is important in the sense that he feels accepted, he feels unnoticed, he feels hidden because one can’t differentiate between the prosthesis and the amputation.”

While Ubokobong gradually learnt to use his new hand, John developed his skill in producing black prosthesis. He eventually changed careers and started a new business in response to demand for different body parts.

“As an upcoming artist, my vision was always to explore the world to be that great artist; to be like the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci, but sometimes life itself creates a space for you to explore. So it puts up a drama and you have nothing to do but to follow it, as long as you have the passion.”

For Ubokobong, he says, his loss is other people’s gain and it’s something he is proud to be a part of.

“My brother solved my problem and my problem in turn inspired him to solve other amputees’ problems. I had to lose some fingers so that others can gain.”

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