For human beings, many are created fat, some slim, some tall and some short.
Cardoso Oluwatosin Michael, from Lagos Island, has just finished his mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Minna, Niger State.
Cardoso graduated from The Polytechnic Ibadan where he studied science laboratory technology in 2018. His plan, for now, is to settle down with a wife and then travel abroad for his master’s. But there is a major problem: Getting a partner as his height, he says, is scaring away ladies from him.
From the beginning to the end of this interview, there was no dull moment with Cardoso as he opened up about his life, his parents, his past and future. The 6.9 footer wants to be a lecturer later in life and a renowned basketball player.
What is your height?
(Bursts into prolonged laughter) I know you will ask this question. I am 6.9 feet. The height is an advantage to me in the pursuit of my basketball career.
Do you see yourself as the tallest man in the country?
I have not moved round the entire country, so I wouldn’t know my position. But what I know is that I am one of the tallest people anywhere I have been to and it makes me highly distinct from others.
Which of your parents has similar intimidating height?
Neither of them has such intimidating stature but the two of them are a little bit tall and fat. However, there is one of my maternal uncles who is very tall and my mother used to tell me that I must have inherited the height from him; I also know that some of my father’s relatives are tall; so I must have inherited the height from both families.
Have there been instances whereby your parents made intimidating comments about your height?
Yes, yes. Though my father is late, my mother during conversation or argument with her occasionally will just pounce on me in Yoruba and say, “Iru omo wo niyi, o kan ga gogoro, nibo lo ti gbe giga re yi wa gan?”, meaning, “What type of child are you? You are just tall for nothing, in fact, from where did you get this your intimidating height?” And we will just laugh over it including those around and that is all especially since we know that being tall is not a disease or curse.
Do you feel bad or regret having this height?
It is mixed feelings depending on how it comes. My belief as a Christian is that God did not make a mistake to have given me this height because everything done by God is perfect.
There was a day in Ibadan that I was embarrassed by a taxi driver; I wanted to enter his vehicle and he disallowed me from coming in as he drove me away as if I am not a human being. Speaking in Yoruba to me in a loud voice, the taxi driver said, “Young man, don’t come in at all o; in fact keep away from this car. I will not carry you because your height won’t give my other passengers their due space.” When this happens, as a student and as a normal human being, one would feel intimidated.
But anytime it happens, I quickly put it behind me and forge ahead and remain consoled that being tall is not a disease and that, somewhere, I will use this same height to my advantage. Sometimes when I have to travel, because I cannot sit just anywhere in commercial vehicles because of my long legs, I beg or abandon travelling especially when passengers refuse to vacate the front or side seats for me or wait for the next vehicle.
Problem shopping for wears…
Ah! This is another experience in life especially in the market because everything is double size for me! I have a lot of challenges in this aspect. I don’t usually see my trousers length, shirts size and other clothes in the market due to my height.
So, I usually call my junior sister to buy materials which I give to my tailor to sew to my taste and size.
Why not explore supermarkets and boutiques for shopping?
These are no-go areas for me because even if I can get my clothes’ size there, they will be too expensive for me. For shoes, they are even more difficult to get. But I have a shoe dealer who goes the extra mile to help me get sizes 49 or 60 depending on whether they are Italian or American.
Life at NYSC camp…
It is always easy for those with normal sizes to get their kits like khaki wears, sports wears and jungle boots among others easily but for me, it was not easy. Honestly, words cannot describe my experience while in camp. My first experience was when I got to the gate of the NYSC camp where I was confronted by officials of the NDLEA who bombarded me with questions but because I know my peculiar position, I turned every conversation to a joke and I remained the longest screened corps member to go into the camp and, even after then, some of them were still looking at me as a strange human being throughout our stay in camp.
When khaki trousers and jackets and jungle boots etc were being distributed, it wasn’t easy for me. The khaki trousers, jacket and vest given to me were too short. My jungle boots were undersized. I had to go to a tailor to add more yards of khaki to give me the right size of trousers and jacket and I also had to take my jungle boots to a cobbler to adjust to my size! Honestly, I went the extra mile to get these done.
Everybody in camp used to call me ‘Dogo’ (tall person in Hausa language) and I will just laugh. This attitude endeared me to everybody and made them love me the more. Honestly, despite all odds, I enjoyed myself in the camp.
One of my next plans is to marry. I will like to marry somebody who is moderate to my height, the lady must at least reach my arms or a little bit short for the equation to be balanced.
Who is the lucky partner?
I had a partner formerly in Ibadan but we are no longer together and I am not dating anyone presently.
Are ladies intimidated by your stature?
Honestly, they are scared of my height and some run away from me. Out of about one hundred percent women I have met in my life, sixty percent of them run away from me just because of my height but later, some of them would come back to me because I used to take tutorial while in school and ladies also attend and so, if you don’t like my height, you will like my brain. Meanwhile, I feel comfortable on the basketball pitch and in church (Cherubim and Seraphim Movement Church, Minna) where I feel so free because there is love and no discrimination there. What I make ladies realize is that height is not a disease and I am not tall for nothing because I have a value for my life.
Plan for basket ball…
Basketball is really on my mind and in my blood and I will not leave it. I played in different schools and clubs while in school and I am really working on it and looking forward to the time I will become like Michael Jordan or Hakeem Olajuwon. What I need for now is for basketball talent hunters within and outside the country to locate me and fix me up and I am optimistic that I will excel in the game.
Message for people who are tall like him…
My message is “All things bright and beautiful, the Lord God made them all”. Anybody as tall as me should see it as a blessing from God and added advantage. This is because we have many things that others do not have and so they should be focused and don’t allow people to be their obstacle. They should see themselves as a blessing to their families, society, country and the world as a whole and should therefore pursue their goals with vigour until the goals are accomplished putting at the back of their minds that height or being extraordinarily tall, short, fat or slim is not a disease and should therefore be used more positively for the betterment of the society and for the glory of God.