Out of Africa: Emerging Self-Help

by Moussa Dao (Burkina Faso), Joseph Lukong (Cameroon), and Daniel Othieno (Uganda)

The following three short papers tell the stories of the beginnings of the self-help movement in three different African nations. The authors are willing to answer specific or general questions about their experiences. You can post Questions/comments about the following papers to the authors before October 22, 2001.

About the presenter: Dr. Moussa Dao is a pharmacist in the West African nation of Burkina Faso. He lives in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. He is 31 years old and has stuttered since childhood. Four of the eight children born to his mother stutter. Conscious of the problems encountered by the people who stutter in Africa and conscious of the absence of centers for treatment, he decided, to use the Internet, to research stuttering around the world. In November 2002, he connected with the International Stuttering Association (ISA), and is designated as a "special friend" of the ISA since January 2002. He is very actively involved in the cause of the people who stutter in his country and plans to extend the self help association movement, first in West Africa and then in all Africa. In February 2002 he created Action Against Stuttering (abbreviated in French A.C.B.) the first association of people who stutter in his country and West Africa, and third association throughout all of Africa. He is the president of this association. In addition to stuttering, Dr. Dao walks with the assistance of one crutch due to a deformity of his right foot. Burkina Faso
About the presenter: Joseph Lukong is the Coordinator General of the Speak Clear Association of Cameroon, a support organization for people who stutter. He is a member of International Fluency Association since February 2002. He writes, "I have stuttered all through my life as have several members of my family. I hold a BA in Law from the University of Yaounde Cameroon and have worked in a law firm in Douala and now I work as a consultant for CAJUREC a debt recovery and legal counseling enterprise in Douala. I also serve as a volunteer worker in a local NGO called SHUMAS that works for the marginalized and less privileged members of society. This NGO also fights to improve the living conditions of people here. I am a Roman Catholic Christian and enjoy reading the Bible and attending ecumenical church services." Cameroon
About the presenter: Othieno Daniel Kiracho writes, "I was born in 1974 in Tororo district, Eastern Uganda not far the republic of Kenya. I come from a small ethnic group known as Jopadhola. I am the second born in a family of six, four boys and two girls and the only one who stutters. I have stuttered for as long as I remember. I attended all my education in Uganda . In 2000 I graduated with Honours from Makerere University-Kampala City, Uganda, studying social adminstration and political science. After the university, my first job was a voluntary assignment with PLAN International, a child centered NGO in Tororo. Since December 2001 I am the officer in charge of the Tororo branch of the Uganda Red Cross. I am still single but I hope by the time I clock 30 years of age, I shall be settled in marriage." Uganda

Burkina Faso by Moussa Dao

Conscious of the moral and social suffering caused by stuttering;

Conscious of the absence of national stuttering awareness;

Conscious of the absence of stuttering therapists and the absence of a national stuttering association in order to support people who stutter;

Some people who stutter in Burkina Faso, led by Dr Moussa DAO, decided to create an association.

On February 10th ,2002, after a general assembly, ACB was created.

The name ACB is an acronym made up from the first letter of the associations official French name. ACB means Action Against Stuttering (in French : Action Contre le Begaiement).

This is the logo of ACB. The meaning of our logo is :

Sonorous waves: the waves are the symbol of language. Here, in the beginning, waves are normal and in the end they are disorderly; that means there is language trouble . The waves symbolize stuttering.

The head of man and woman: both join, mean that stuttering concern men and women and therefore all the population .

The white and black color of heads mean stuttering concern all the races and ethnic.

The colors

  • The yellow color of background symbolizes the light, hope
  • The black color of ACB symbolizes suffering and sadness
  • The green color of the frame symbolizes nature , perennially , happiness

    To summarize, ACB in Black, means that ACB is based on suffering and sadness of People who stutter in order to lead them towards light and hope (The yellow color of the background ) in a perennially and happiness environment (The green color of the frame).

    The Logo of ACB is put on a strong slogan : "Stuttering is not a fatality." This slogan encourages people to join us.

    This logo was conceived By Dr Moussa DAO with the artistry done by Tiekoura TRAORE

    The association obtained an official recognition from the national authorities by getting a certificate on March 29th ,2002.

    ACB carries out its activities with commissions:

    • Extension commission, charged to extend ACB action throughout all of Burkina Faso and to help other stutterers in African countries to set up their self help associations;
    • Information and advice commission, charged to make up a center of information and advice about stuttering for all persons. This center will develop a library;
    • Testimonies collection commission, charged to identify through peoples' testimonies (personal stories) their problems,
    • Stuttering prevention since childhood commission, charged to support children who stutter and their families;
    • Treatment commission charged with running self help groups and supporting the establishment of new self help groups in all Burkina Faso and organizing the visits of specialists and stuttering therapists;
    • Studies commission, charged with organizing those participating in ACB in research studies about stuttering in the world and to initiate studies in Burkina Faso according to problems identified by testimonies collect commission;
    • Fund raiser and entertaining activities commission, charged with organizing every years stuttering awareness day in October 22 and do all action in order to get funding for ACB
    In order to realize these activities ACB will be happy to make partnership with all stuttering associations or therapists throughout the world.

    Moreover ACB would welcome the visit of specialists or stuttering therapists for conferences. For these activities ACB would be grateful for any help, including computers (even a second hand computer), books, cassette videos and others things which will be useful for helping people learn about stuttering

    Dr Moussa DAO
    chairman of AC B (Action Against stuttering) (Burkina Faso stuttering association)
    Postal address : 01 BP 5263 Ouagadougou 01 West Africa
    Phone : (226) 31 84 24
    Mobile Phone : (226) 26 35 29
    Email : daomoussa@yahoo.fr

    Cameroon by Joseph Lukong

    The SPEAK CLEAR ASSOCIATION OF CAMEROON (SCAC) started in 1987 as a family-based self help meeting for the stuttering members of the Lukong family that lived in the English speaking part of northwestern Cameroon.

    There is a proverb in the lamnso dialect, one of the more than 250 dialects spoken in Cameroon. This proverb is BOYOO DZE KIWO-OH KIMO-ON KIKUR KIFAH'. Translated into English it says 'ONE HAND CANNOT TIE A BUNDLE'. The proverb was derived from common sense knowledge that one person alone cannot succeed in a major task, but when two persons come together as one, it is possible for them to do several tasks. United they can even cause valleys and mountains to move. It was in 1987 when one of my cousins was refused marriage to a young man by the man's parents on the pretext that our cousin would transmit the stuttering virus to their daughter's future children, that an idea came to our mind to start meeting as a group so as to examine what we could do to counteract the open discrimination that we have been subjected to and also to explore other forms of therapies which are available. This is how the idea of the SPEAK CLEAR ASSOCIATION OF CAMEROON (SCAC) came into being.

    Encouraged by what was being done for stutterers that were members of our family group, other stutterers in the village started joining. After some years of existence, a constitution and by-laws were drawn up for the association and later an application was submitted to the Ministry of interior in Cameroon for official authorization. Per authorization N0288/RDDA/BAPP, SCAC is a non-profit, non-political, non-tribal, and secular self help movement for stuttering persons in Cameroon. SCAC is a full member of the INTERNATIONAL STUTTERING ASSOCIATION (ISA) since October 2001, and its Coordinator General, Joseph Lukong, is a member of the INTERNATIONAL FLUENCY ASSOCIATION, since February 2002.

    Membership in SCAC is open to stutterers, recovered and recovering stutterers, parents of stuttering children, spouses of stutterers and traditional herbalists involved in treating stuttering. The main office of SCAC is in Douala the economic capital of Cameroon with wards in various localities of Cameroon. Our vision is like ISA's, a world that understands stuttering. SCAC has links with many stuttering associations and individuals in Europe, America, Australia, New Zealand and Africa.

    Through the Internet we have found a world of "hands" to help and we are beginning to learn more about stuttering. Although we do not have access to the World Wide Web, we have made contact with many new friends around the world through email. Through email we have been able to communicate with many persons from different parts of the world some of whom have been very supportive of our work.

    First we contacted BV STOTTERER SELBSTILFE of Germany and Konrad Schaefers of that association immediately sent us very valuable books and handouts in both the German and English languages. Konrad forwarded our message to Stefan Hoffmann in China. Stefan is the International Stuttering Association (ISA) Vice Chairman and officer responsible for OUTREACH activities. He sent us a document of several pages containing valuable information and informed us of ISAD (October 22) which we had never heard of before. Stefan asked Michael Sugarman, the chairperson of ISAD and Amy Johnson to send us some posters. Stefan also forwarded our letter to Jaan Pill of the Canadian Association of People Who Stutter (CAPS) who put our letter on their website and put us in touch with Daniel in Uganda, another African like myself with whom I hope to share rich information on stuttering from our respective countries. Then Stefan wrote to tell us about the International Stuttering Awareness Day online conference and put us in touch with Judy Kuster who sent us some books about stuttering, CD-roms of past conferences which we could read, and emailed several of the current conference papers to us so we could participate in the conference from Cameroon. Judy contacted Dennis Drayna of the National Institutes of Health and he is interested in studying our family and has also given us additional books about stuttering from the Stuttering Foundation of America. We have recently become a member of the International Stuttering Association with a mentor assigned to help supervise our growth. We have learned a lot about stuttering in the past year. There have indeed been many hands that are helping us "tie our bundle."

    In its struggle to let the world understand stuttering and to make the world and Cameroon in particular a better place for people who stutter, SCAC has carried out the following projects and programs.

    1. Collection of books, video tapes and other materials about stuttering for our members. We have at our office some books about stuttering where members are reading and learning about stuttering.
    2. Sensitizing the Cameroon public and the whole world about stuttering. In Cameroon this is done through religious bodies that collaborate very well with us, socio-cultural groups, and community-based organizations. Access to the mass media in Cameroon is expensive. We don't have resources to pay for press coverage of our activities. However, since the beginning of this year our activities have been covered free of charge by two very popular newspapers in Cameroon. We have joined hands in our own country to "tie our bundle."
    3. Helping people learn about stuttering in our Cameroon. We have participated in Judy Kuster's online conference on stuttering. Several letters and articles from us have been published in various newsletters, including the ISA's One Voice, Air Flow of the New Zealand Stuttering Association, UDTYYK of the Danish Stuttering Association, and the newsletters of the Dutch and German Stuttering Associations.
    4. Collaborating with some institutions to sponsor courses for our members. The first organization that accepted our request is the McGuire Program that ran a four day intensive course for 11 SCAC members in March 2002 and has promised to run another course in November. Also, the Starfish Trust of the U.K. has agreed to sponsor one member from our association to attend a three day intensive course in the UK in July of this year. On return this member will teach the techniques of Starfish in various localities of Cameroon.
    5. Creation of a website for our association. With the help of the ISA website group represented by Benny Ravid of Israel, a web page has been built for SCAC. Presently it is linked to the Stuttering Home Page and the British Stammering Association's website. If you wish, you can visit it at www.stutterisa.org/cameroon
    6. Collaborating with various individuals. We have established relationships with some individuals in the Netherlands, the stuttering information center, the association of speech therapists and the stuttering association of that country to develop a project to help spread information about stuttering in Cameroon. Also, ties have been established between SCAC and the New Zealand Speak Easy which has provided information on stuttering and self help issues.
    7. Identification of families where several members stutter so as to link them to researchers interested in stuttering the genetics of stuttering. Dr. Denis Drayna of the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, USA has visited Cameroon and studied 18 members of one family. He will return to Cameroon before the end of the year to finish this study.
    8. Identification of stuttering school children in all primary schools in Douala. This is done with the help of the authority of the Ministry of National Education.
    I wish to thank the many persons both within and outside of Cameroon who have supported us to realize some of these projects.

    SCAC has developed a vision for Cameroon for the future. After noting with regret that there are no speech pathologists in this country and that the many stutterers here still resort to very crude methods of treating stuttering, and that many stutterers here, parents and teachers of PWS, do not have much information on how to deal with stuttering, we decided to fill this vacuum and in line with our vision to help develop a world that understands stuttering, we want to create a SCAC STUTTERING, INFORMATION AND COUNSELING CENTRE in the Economic Capital of Douala with liaison offices in the major localities of Cameroon. That center will be equipped with books and other materials on stuttering. It will publish a journal called SCAC INFO in both French and English the official languages of Cameroon. We shall also publish information packets on stuttering that suit the socio-cultural and economic context of our country. We shall have trained stuttering counselors who will work here with our stutterers. We intend to equip our centre with a computer and internet services so that our members can have much information about stuttering that is always available on the internet which is still a rare commodity in Cameroon. We would gratefully receive contributions in the form of advice or materials that can help us implement this project which will help stutterers in Cameroon . Should any person wish to contact us it can be through our email address lujotar@yahoo.com

    Uganda by Daniel Othieno

    Public speaking is not a joke if your stutter is beyond mild like mine!! The daily frustrations and embarrassments we face while speaking to large audiences , make the adoption of the avoidance behaviors, a largely preferred weapon. Unfortunately, this method does not seem to be the solution to stuttering.

    My personal experience with public speaking has been both challenging and rewarding. I remember, not long ago, anything to do with speaking in public was unwelcome . Any attempt to do so was inviting myself embarrassment. However, when I got my present job, there was a complete shift in my way of life. The job was very demanding in terms of talking to the public. It involved going out to meet students and disseminating Red Cross messages. At first it looked like I would not be able to measure up to the requirements of the job due to my stammer. It was a tough experience, though in the end, it made me to what I am today.

    The first major challenging task was when I was invited as the Tororo district Red Cross officer, to launch a Red Cross link in a secondary school of over 2000 students. It was my first encounter with such a large and difficult audience. After presentations by other guests, I was finally invited to deliver my speech.

    It was a disaster!! By the time I stood up my heart beats had already doubled and I was starting to sweat. The uneasiness and fear were tremendous. As I delivered the speech the nightmare of bad stammer was realized as some of the students began to laugh. It was a very distressing moment. But all the same I struggled to the very end, until I said all that I wanted to say.

    While back at home , the sad memory was still haunting me. I decided to read some ofthe stuttering materials I had received from our dear friends of CAPS, BSA, ISA, Stuttering Homepage and Institute for Stuttering Treatment in Alberta.

    It was a wise idea !! I got immense courage and determination from the materials. So I went ahead with determination to organize several Red Cross Dissemination trips in schools across the district. In the end what was exciting was the kind of stamina and confidence I developed. In time talking to large audiences became a no problem to me.

    The confidence building went hand in hand with improvements in my fluency. I realized I no longer stammered as much in front of the students . In fact very few would now laugh at me. Instead some students gave me the nickname HENRY DUNANT - the Swiss founder of the Red Cross Movement. I now feel much more comfortable addressing large audiences regardless of the size or composition.

    My goal now is to start a self-help organization in Uganda for people who stutter.

    You can post Questions/comments about the above papers to the authors before October 22, 2002.

    Note: the map above is included with permission of World Atlas (www.worldatlas.com).