He is a regular at celebrity hangout, O’jez, located inside the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos where he entertains with deft dance steps every Friday and Sunday.
Popularly called Crazy Legs, Vershima Mende is physically challenged with both legs cut off at the knees. He also has issues with his right hand.
Despite walking on two stumps, the handsome young man in his early 20s would rather not sit at the roadside and beg for alms like others even with less disability. “I will rather dance and make money than to go and sit at the roadside and beg for alms like most disabled people do. In fact, I always feel embarrassed when people give me money at the bus stop while I wait for the bus. I always tell them politely, sorry, I am waiting for the bus like you, and I am not here to beg. But many would rather insist I took the money and sometimes I do because you know human being, they will begin to say I am a proud person.”
Is he a proud person? “Yes, I am a proud Nigerian who believes that I must work hard to make a living and not constitute a nuisance to the society by begging for alms.”
It will surprise one to know that Crazy Legs is also an athlete. He represented Nigeria at the recently concluded All Africa games held in Congo although he did not win any medal in the sports for physically challenged athletes. He declared proudly: “I got to the final in weightlifting in the 170kg category.”
He is also deft at short put, javelin, discus (class 57) and lawn tennis. He also plays football. All these started in 2010 when he realised that people living with disability were still participating in sports.
“I have never allowed my condition to limit me, so most times I chose to play football with able bodied men just to prove that what they can do, I can do it too. Although I notice that they treat me with caution in the field of play, something I am really not comfortable with anyway. Of a truth, I don’t often think about my disability because everything I have wanted to do, I have done,” the Benue State native said.
He is however gaining more popularity through dancing. “I started dancing in 2003 and I rehearse a lot because I truly love dancing. I watch dance videos a lot too but I started getting popular some couple of years ago and people began inviting me to perform at shows in Port Harcourt, Calabar, Abuja, Enugu, regularly. I meet a lot of people at O’jez who will extend invitations for shows after they have seen my performance every Friday and Sunday here (O’jez). I make enough money from dancing to keep me from begging.”
Crazy Legs called on government to assist physically challenged people to stop them from begging on the streets.
“Not everybody has the talents God has given me. I dance, and I am an athlete and make some little money. There are so many people like me without one talent or skill, so let government open skills acquisition centres to train physically challenged people so that they can become useful to themselves, family and the society. For instance, I want to open a dance studio to train physically challenged people, but where is the money?” he concluded.