Performing Artist Cobhams Asuquo on Obstacles and Successes

Singer/songwriter Cobhams Asuquo of Nigeria stands out in the music scene, not only for his immense talent, but also for his journey of overcoming obstacles. On Monday, April 29, 2024, he took the stage at the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC)’s 10th anniversary celebration at WIPO headquarters.

Video: Mr. Cobhams Asuquo in concert at the 10th anniversary celebration of the Accessible Books Consortium

Born blind, Asuquo took interest in music at a very young age, teaching himself to play the piano and joining his school and church bands. It was at the age of 19 that he produced his first hit song, which kickstarted his professional music career.

However, Asuquo’s journey was not without its challenges. He tried to go down a more conventional path, studying law for three years at university. There, he was met with multiple obstacles, notably in accessing course materials, which were not tailored for people with print disabilities.

Before performing his song “Colorblind”, which addresses discrimination and leveling the playing field, he spoke about the people at ABC, WIPO, and their partners who are working to take away colors, barriers, and limitations. In his words:

If I can find room to do certain things and I can have access to do certain things, it’s because someone is doing the job to make it so.

While he was a student in Nigeria, Braille school books were being sold for the equivalent of around USD100 per book, while the same print version would be sold for approximately USD3.50. Organizations in Nigeria that ABC has supported were able to subsequently provide braille books for as low as USD3.50 a book, which allowed people with print disabilities to afford basic textbooks. ABC also provided training to these organizations in how to produce textbooks in audio format for students who are blind or otherwise print disabled.

Beyond his role as a musician, Asuquo is an ambassador for UNICEF Nigeria, he sees himself as not only a champion for those in Nigeria who need support, but for the many others around the world who can be inspired by his story and his work. He referenced his song “Ordinary People”, and expressed his belief that everyone has talents that they can use to serve others and make a real difference. “Let us build a world of ordinary people who have the power to do extraordinary things,” he said.

Asuquo’s story is a testament to the transformative power of perseverance and the potential that lies within each of us, regardless of the obstacles we may encounter along the way. Through his music and activism, Cobhams Asuquo continues to advocate for a more inclusive and equitable world, where barriers are dismantled, and dreams are within reach for all.


According to a 2017 study published in The Lancet, approximately 253 million people are blind or visually impaired world-wide. Nearly 90% of these are resident in developing countries, where the World Blind Union (WBU) estimates that people who are blind have only a one in ten chance of going to school or getting a job. A lack of accessible books remains a very real barrier to getting an education and leading an independent, productive life.

About ABC

The Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) is a public-private partnership led by WIPO that, together with its many partners around the world, has had real impact over the past decade.   Since its inception, the ABC Global Book Service catalogue has quadrupled in size to nearly one million titles thanks to the inclusion of the collections of participating authorized entities. ABC delivered a total of 164,000 accessible digital files from the ABC catalogue to persons with print disabilities through its authorized entities in 2023. In addition, through ABC’s training and technical assistance partners, almost 20,000 textbooks have been made accessible in over 40 low-income countries, improving access to education for thousands of young people. ABC was established in June 2014 to implement the goals of the Marrakesh Treaty.

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About WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 193 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society's evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.

Last update:

May 13, 2024


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