WHEN he was 18 years old, Johnson Munyorovi failed most subjects at school. This made his life a nightmare. It was hard for him to make friends because people looked down on him and said that he was dumb.
Munyorovi also believed it when people said he was dumb; he did not know he suffered from dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a cluster of symptoms which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. People with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills, such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words.
“I went to school at a time children were caned by teachers for being left-handed or dull. The teacher usually leapt at you like a tigress when you gave the wrong answer or when she saw people like me using what was considered the ‘wrong’ hand when writing.
“She hit me with a blackboard duster or ruler each time I put my pencil in my left hand to write or took time to give an answer,” said Munyorovi.
His mother was the only person who understood him.
“The only person who really believed in me was my mother. Unfortunately she passed on when I was 14 years old after I had written my Grade Seven exams,” said Munyorovi.
His life changed for the worst after his mother’s death.
“When my mother died, I felt so lost because she was the full pillar of my life. She was the only person who used to motivate me to read a lot. I felt as if no one cared for me so I ended up becoming very naughty. Whenever I was mischievous my father would beat the hell out of me. But now I understand that I was so naughty because I longed for someone to pay attention to my struggles of dyslexia. Unfortunately my father did not understand that, he just thought I was a naughty child,” said Munyorovi.
His life only started to be meaningful when he started working for an organisation called Home Health Education Services which was formed by different doctors.
“In that organisation I ended up selling books. There is a book I saw titled Developing a Healthy Mind, and in that book I picked up the issue of dyslexia and I started to do my research. I discovered some successful people who have my condition.”
This motivated him to register his own NGOs because he wanted to help other children who are also undergoing the same challenges he went through.
“My NGOs are called Brighten Lives Education Services and Shelter Care. All I want is to brighten children’s lives by exposing them to opportunities available to them,” said Munyorovi.
No matter where you go in the world, you will find dyslexic individuals who have achieved success, despite experiencing early difficulties with reading and writing.
That’s because dyslexia is not a disability, rather it is a different way of processing language in the brain. It also comes with positives, such as enhanced creativity, an ability to see the big picture, and a facility of bringing together material from different subject areas, which translates into keen problem-solving skills.
Many of the people who we consider as changing the course of history for the better were dyslexic.
These people were not only able to think outside of the box, but they had the ability to shatter limitations of the current thinking of their day. They were visionaries who gave birth to ideas that have impacted history in remarkable ways.
These revolutionary thinkers are not limited to one area of pursuit, but have contributed to the world in all areas. They were inventors & scientists, political leaders, writers & journalists, filmmakers, actors & entertainers, athletes, artistes, designers, architects, lawmakers, military heroes, and musicians.
Successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Steve Jobs made use of their dyslexic brains to build billion-dollar companies. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln left an indelible mark on history as presidents of the United States of America, regardless of their spelling ability.
One thing that all of these people have in common is they all have the ability to adapt. They all overcame adversity and managed to create incredibly successful lives.
Munyorovi had advice for parents whose children cannot perform well in school due to dyslexia.
“Don’t look down on your child because of their condition. All you need to do is to encourage the child to excel in their God-given gifts. Sometimes they cannot articulate their plans on paper but with their talents they can do wonders,” said Munyorovi.