Now I say to myself "I can do it. He did it, so can I" 

The article's author Uchechukwu Ngaikdi, and US broadcaster Steve Harvey

9th February 2021

Uchechukwu Ngaikedi's feelings about stammering almost derailed his dreams of becoming a TV reporter/broadcaster. That was until he found a famous role model who encouraged him to work on himself and help others who stammer.

My name is Uchechukwu and I live in Lagos, Nigeria. I'm currently in my second year at University studying English Language, and this is my story.

I've always wanted to be a TV reporter and broadcaster, but I was always scared growing up because I stammer. It's something I've had since childhood and I remember being asked a question once during a Church meeting. I was scared, and fear ran down my spine. I could not say a word and I just stared at the Church president. My words got hooked. 

From that day on I vowed that I would never speak in public, even if my words would save a life.  

Fortunately, the president noticed so he requested I sit. I sat down feeling shame. I was disappointed. Others around me scoffed and laughed at me, even my friends. From that day on I vowed that I would never speak in public, even if my words would save a life.  

However, during the next meeting the president picked me out and asked me to pray. I mumbled and said to myself, "You can do it, Uche, you can." I then started to say the prayer. Fortunately I was audible and comprehensive. I was happy. I did not stammer. I cheered that day and I promised to work on myself.

Following my interests

Because of my interest for news reporting and broadcasting, I joined the high school press club, and was a devoted member. But even when I was exposed to school journalism, I still had issues with speaking when I was terrified. 

My passion for news presenting and reporting grew but later dwindled. I think it was because of how variable my stammer is — sometimes I think I speak cogently but other times I scatter the stage with my stutter and this affected my confidence. Whenever I was presenting, my voice hung for every speech I made.  

That doesn't mean I do not stammer anymore, but I am more confident. Even if I stutter, I speak. I also make sure no one looks down on me; when they do, I overlook them.

I had always wanted to study mass communication but the course was not available at the time of applying. So instead I decided to study English Language. I am happy studying that because it has changed the way I think and is gradually improving my writing skills. I am happy but I still stammer. It is painful when you are asked to present something you've written, but because of stammering you are deterred to express your points.  

Role model

In 2019, and on my continued quest to 'improve' myself, I came across Steve Harvey. He is an American comedian, actor, television presenter, broadcaster, and author (read more about Steve Harvey and his experiences of stammering on the Stuttering Foundation's website). Reading about Steve's life motivated me to work on myself and I decided to choose him as my role model. I watched his shows on YouTube and followed him on all his social media handles. Now I say to myself, "I can do it. He did it, so can I." These words have been my strength ever since. That doesn't mean I do not stammer anymore, but I am more confident. Even if I stutter, I speak. I also make sure no one looks down on me; when they do, I overlook them.

US broadcaster Steve Harvey
Steve Harvey (image courtesy of Avito C.Dalan for the Philippine News Agency)

This year, 2021, I am planning on founding an organisation here in Lagos, were people who stammer can meet to encourage themselves and tell their stories. I'll keep you posted on its progress.

Read more stories from others who stammer at our Your Voice section. See our Share Your Story page if you'd like to submit your own article.

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