About the presenter: Jonas Berinyuy is a college teacher in Douala, Cameroon, West Africa, where there are no speech specialists and little is known about stammering. He has a mild stammer and has always felt very bad when he would stumble over words. He considers himself a covert stammerer. He is from the NSO tribe and is from a family of five. He is a Christian and loves reading and sharing the word of God. Jonas is a member of the Speak Clear Association of Cameroon (SCAC) and works as a school liaison officer. He is also a sponsored member of the International Fluency Association (I.F.A.)

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2007.

Stuttering In Cameroon To Take A Different Course Of Thought: Exploring Solutions For The Future

by Jonas Berinyuy
from Cameroon, West Africa

If we in Africa had known that people all over the world experience the problem of stuttering much the same as we do in Cameroon, the notion that stuttering is a curse from the gods could have bearly been admitted. All what Africa needs is sensitization and a greater opportunity to have the right services.

One very interesting thing is that people all over the world stutter irrespective of race, culture, religion and other factors and for the fact that people who stutter have the same potentials and needs as everyone else and if given the fairness and the opportunity, they will succeed in life.

When we consider the ramifications of the effects of stuttering we see that it does not concern only one member as my natives say it's the problem of the tongue. The say either the tongue has been condemned to be too long or too short.

"When a goat cries that its neck has been tied up it fails to understand that the whole body is involved". Stuttering is a multidimensional and manageable composite of behaviors, thoughts and feelings. Very successful intervention will take into account not only the individual who stutters, but vitually all members within that individual's communication system.

The whole issue here is to be addressed to the communication environment. The equation may consider the culture and believes of the people, Language and other factors.

Some of you reading this article are very lucky to come from nations where there are speech therapists Where citizens have their freedom and stuttering is being understood and stutterers might be fairly treated.

Cameroon has two distinct cultures which have no similarity. People are brought of in two different cultures. We have the Anglophone and the Francophones communities. Those of us who leave with our families in the francophone part of the country have a bitter experience. Anglophones who don't understand French or speak poorly are being ridiculed, derided and bearly given a place in the society. This is what I have termed to be a kind of national bullying. I am not compromising national unity in my country but pointing out problems many of us face.

Knowledge is power; that is why nothing stops us now. If we have to succeed to fight for the rights of stutterers in Cameroon, then we have to continue with an aggressive campaign.

Stuttering in school

I am a college teacher in All Saints Bilingual College Bonaberi in Douala and work mostly with children who stutter. I may have something to share from my experiences. The lack of sufficient assistance has given me a challenge to move extra for some discoveries.

Stuttering in children happen to be a tender disorder and needs proper care since language is a very vital and socializing element that they need to get on with life. It continually and gradually occupies many areas of the child's entire life. It is important therefore for parents and teachers to play an proactive role in bringing up the child.

A teacher needs to know his children, bring them closer, know their problems and understand what they are capable of doing. Its quite obvious that some children may hide their problems. When a teacher makes himself a father and always available for the children, he consequently builds another home in school.

The problem of stuttering affects very few children and if care is not taken the school will be a very difficult place for them. They may experience very traumatic situations if they are not positively understood by the teacher and their peers. They spend much time in school and will need language to communicate. It therefore necessary that teachers carry an important share of the responsibilities. Since a teacher might not be a speech specialist, he needs some tips

About teasing and bullying

In school, children make good fun by teasing one another. We are not going to discuss about this type of teasing, but examine the bad side of teasing which is aimed to hurt. Bullying is a barbaric act which has an emotional and physical effect. Any child guilty of this uncultivated behavior should be brought to order and punished. Victims should be protected and defended. I had a personal discussion with a bully and he changed and never bullied anymore. When this children understand the repercussions of their acts, they change.

Some children are relieved when they understand that if they are bullied they are not alone and when they learn that many children experience bullying for various reasons like being too fat, short, tall etc.

I never had good stories when I was young. No one cared for me. Any one could bully and tease me as he/she wanted. Even my mother who even loved me so much use to tease me when she was angry with me. She will say "ka ka ka ka kaŠ. get out of here"!! But after some time she will call me and give me some food to eat as a way of apology. That was her own way to an end.

I have a story of a mate who bullied me in school and I told him something that he was frightened and never came by me nor ever spoke to me again. One morning during devotion when the national anthem was sang this bully decided to be whistling instead of singing as others. I was standing 4th position behind him since we always stood on ranks. The headmaster heard the whistling and came nearer after the anthem was over. "Who whistled the national anthem here?" He said. I say who whistled here? He repeated. Everyone was terrified knowing how dangerous his whip was. As he drew nearer again, The bully put up his hand, turned behind and pointed at me. Perhaps because he knew that I was the only one who could not defend himself. The children around could not save me by telling the truth because they were afraid of the bully. Immediately the continence of the headmaster changed and he pulled me ahead with a heavy bang on my back and gave me the worst chastisement I ever received in life. I was given fifteen strokes of the cane on my buttocks. I was disgraced in front of the whole school. My buttocks were swollen and I could not sit well in the class the whole day. I had a very difficult day. At the close of the day I met with this bully at the school gate and told him that he needed to know that my uncle is a witch doctor and will not spare him. That he will die. He became so troubled and started sending other mates behind me to beg for forgiveness. I did not answer them. The boy was terrified every time I met with him. He didn't die anyway. It was the only way I could also pinch him. When I went back home I told my elder brother. I showed him the contours on my buttocks that the whip had marked out and he became crazy and took me off to see the boy. I was still afraid about what he might team up with his friends to do to me and took him to a wrong direction where we could not find him. I did not This boy never bullied me again.

I used a very canal method to settle with my bully. My brother's method of fighting was not any solution too. That is what happens to some parents; they build a self defense for the children by taking them to a wrestling club.

I think its necessary to teach children coping strategies to surmount any case of teasing and bullying. For instance, we can teach them not to show concern or show any negative action towards a bully's attempt to tease. Certain cases should be even treated with a simple smile or responded with humor to slap out the onslaught. A bully who tries to mimic the way you speak - you may just say for example: "I will teach you if you can't stutter better than that" and so on. This will frustrate the bully's aim to inflict pain in you.

Both stuttering , teasing and bullying are issues that must be addressed with much the same attention. A stuttering child who is being taunted ends up making a miserable school life which greatly affects even his health and academic performance. A bully in school has a bad school record and develop hatred from mates. There is even danger that the bully may grow in that spirit and will end a failure in life no matter how intelligent he is because any achievement without discipline is useless.

I believe coming together as birds of the same feather is a bond that we have to use to fight for our rights and for the rights of our children. I hardly forget what happened to me as a child and may only forget by making sure that no child suffers what I passed through.

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the author before October 22, 2007.

August 1, 2007
Return to the opening page of the conference