Since today is the International Stammering Awareness Day, I decided to interview a few stammerers and let their voices be heard on this platform.
Meet Joseph Entekume and Tosin Smart.
When did you start stammering?
Joseph: It started when I was 4.
Tosin: I really can't remember when because I knew I started at a very young age, maybe 4yrs and above.
What do you think caused it?
Joseph: I was imitating the Late. Sam Loko Efe for a while and nobody stopped me. Also, it was a Tv series so it was a daily habit for me to imitate him.
Tosin: Well, I think it was fear, being bullied and lack of confidence.
Was any other member of your family a stammerer?
Joseph: Nope. Only me!!!
Tosin: My mum stutters once in a while because it is that obvious but I wouldn't say she is a stammerer.
What was it like, growing up as a child stammerer?
Joseph: It was bad, really bad, but sometimes it brought me good things. My teachers liked me a lot, they always had my back and I think that that, apart from me being the last-born, made me my dad's favorite.
Tosin: It wasn't a good childhood for me. You know, a lot of things you want to say but can't voice out, your opinion doesn't count because none of your friends has the patience to wait for 3 minutes to hear a 5-word sentence. So that made me a walk-over. I could hardly defend myself when lied upon and explaining matters was even worse, not to talk of answering questions in class even though you have the answers to the questions.
How did you cope in school?
Joseph: It was hard answering questions in school. I couldn't participate in debates though I was really good. And people, expecially my mates made fun of me a lot. I think it contributed to my former anger-prone self. But it got easier with time, I got better. My mates got wiser.
Tosin: It wasn't a good experience in my elementary school so what I did was move with those who were sympathetic to my cause. lol. And they spoke for me too.
How has it been with the opposite sex?
Joseph: OoooooK........stuttering has never been a hindrance when it comes to "chyking"(borrowed that from your article). Whenever I decide to talk to a girl, it's like I'm Usher. I just sing my way through..... I mean it goes away. It might creep in a bit, but then I can control it like a boss. This might sound odd but I think I'm usually in control when it comes to chyking. I discovered it in a bet. I was in SS2. My friends and I were contemplating on "TOASTING" a beautiful Nigerian brunette that was in front of us, and I opted to go first. They laughed and said I couldn't, so we bet on some money. So I walked faster, caught up with her, looked for that thing that makes me an Urhobo man (courage) and I spoke to her. It was flawless.
Tosin: Wow! opposite sex.... Well I had a crush on so many girls but couldn't find the voice or courage to approach anyone of them but only could with my eye contact and being nice. So guys that were sharper and could talk fast got the girls while I just fantasized. But all that is a thing of the past now.
What do you dread the most as a stammerer?
Joseph: Saying my name. Like when trying to introduce myself to someone. It can be really embarrassing, so I try to avoid it.
Tosin: I dread conflicts, arguments which I never win even though I might be innocent. I also dread the fact that my stammering may not leave me, that is to say I might still be stammering at my old age.
What has been your most embarrassing moment?
Joseph: Dunno, too many.
Tosin: Hmmm..... When I was asked to explain something in front of a whole class, it happened twice, in my primary school and secondary class and the whole class just bursted into laughter.
What have you achieved notwithstanding your stammering challenge?
Joseph: A lot. Talk about being the youngest in a media firm and being the supervisor. I'm a leader, that I know. And even though I stutter, people tend to listen to my opinions and words. And a lot more (can't say all).
Tosin: Being able to talk in public and dramatize infront of thousands without stuttering as long as I stick to the script.
What has been your escape method?
Joseph: Escape method???? I didn't have one before. I just made sure I said what I had to say, no matter how embarrassing it was or how many times I hit my feet on the ground. But now, when it creeps in bad, I just laugh and remind the person I'm speaking to that I stutter (then they either laugh or say, "it's ok"or "take your time")
What do you have to say to other stammerers?
Joseph: F*** the world!!!F*** them all!!! Just be you, and try to relax when talking. Take your time. People would definitely push you around mostly because they think you don't have what to say. Some will have pity on you and show it in a really embarrassing way. Sometimes market women will think you want to steal something just because they think you're pretending, maybe get a beating or two. The bus driver might cheat you and collect 100NGN instead of 50NGN for a half way trip just because you couldn't tell him where you were going to before the bus left the park. Just learn to control the pace in any situation. Look into the eyes of whoever you're speaking to and talk. Like I said, F*** the world. You're in charge.
Tosin: I will like to advice anyone stammering to be confident, not to be quick to say words, to take their time and let the words come out slowly from their mouth.
What do you have to tell non-stammerers?
Joseph: Be patient with stammerers.
Tosin: Be patient with people stammering. Don't make fun of them as it will hurt them badly when laughed at and increase their low self esteem.
What do you think is a Stammerer's deepest need?
Joseph: Love. Trust me........"LOVE"
All thanks to Joseph and Tosin for giving me their time. If you haven't read my own account, click here
©Radiant~ October 2014