Nigerian Artist Makes Dark Skin Prosthetic Devices

25 January 2020

Michael Sunday was very happy and a little surprised when he first saw his "new" right hand. It is a glove-like prosthetic device that covers his real right hand.

The device should help Sunday return to a normal life after he lost three fingers in a car accident a year ago.

The prosthetic feels like real skin and is dark in color. In fact, the color looks very much like that of Sunday's skin.

Patient, Michael Sunday, shows his new prosthetic hand at Immortal Cosmetic Art, in Uyo, Nigeria January 7, 2020.
Patient, Michael Sunday, shows his new prosthetic hand at Immortal Cosmetic Art, in Uyo, Nigeria January 7, 2020.

White prosthetics for dark-skinned people

Until now, most manmade body parts available in Nigeria have been white. Sometimes the manufacturers use wood. That also looks unrealistic.

Sunday lost the thumb and fourth and fifth fingers on his right hand in 2018. He was riding in a car with his parents when it hit another vehicle.

The 22-year-old student told the Reuters news agency he really likes the prosthetic device.

"Wow, this is lovely. Wow, finally, I have my fingers back. Wow! Amazing."

Uneasiness of amputees

John Amanam, a Nigerian artist, made the prosthetic hand. He once made special effects for movies. He became interested in prosthetics after a family member lost a limb in an accident.

Amanam said he noticed that people who have lost arms or legs often feel uneasy around others. One reason was manmade limbs that did not have the same skin color as those wearing them.

"I became emotional about amputees. They had this feeling of discomfort whenever they were around normal people."

Amanam decided to do what he could to make amputees feel better. Although he does not have any special training in making prosthetics, he did some sculpting as an art student.

He started making prosthetic fingers, hands, arms, legs and ears in 2017. It takes three weeks to two months to make one, depending on the size and complexity of the body part.

His company is called Immortal Cosmetic Art. It sells the pieces for at least 40,000 naira ($111).

An artist at work

To prepare Michael Sunday's hand, Amanam began as any artist would. He made a model and mixed paints, trying to find the right skin color. He says the result is lifelike.

"We have prostheses who are made with white skins. You rarely find people with black skin prosthetics, so I want the blacks, I want Africans, in particular, to have this need solved within Africa."

Sunday says that he is happy to have the lifelike prosthetic.

"It has really helped me, because I can go about my normal life without [people] looking at my hand, without hiding my hands or fear of discrimination or feel pity."

I'm Jill Robbins.

Seun Sanni and Nneka Chile reported on this story for Reuters. Jill Robbins adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

prosthetic – n. an artificial device that replaces a missing or injured part of the body

gloven. a covering for the hand that has separate parts for each finger

limbn. an arm or leg

amputee – n. someone who has lost a body part, such as an arm or leg

sculptingn. to make (something) by carving or shaping clay, wood, or stone

pityn. a strong feeling of sadness or sympathy for someone or something

Do you know anyone who is an amputee? What kind of medical device do they use? Write to us in the Comments Section.