My History

camaraAbout the author:  My name is Zan Camara, born March 10 1978 in Mali, and I am a person who stutters. I am a founding member of the Association of Mali Overcoming Stuttering, created in 2005. Through my commitment to help people who stutter I was appointed President of the association for 6 years. Because of my job at an Account, we appointed a new president to the association. During these years of work within the association, I participated in international conferences on stuttering: the second African conference on stuttering in Burkina Faso: the International Symposium World Stuttering Association in France: the World Congress of the International Fluency Association in France and the ISA World Congress in Holland. I have a Masters in Management and am a financial assistant at the NGO Right To Play.

I started to stutter at an early age. Over time my stuttering got worse without realizing the burden that I would bear thirty years later.

At this time, the severity of my stuttering was ignored by my family and by society. It was very difficult to overcome this burden. So I found myself alone, affected by stuttering with my childhood friends and in class. My classmates did not tolerate my stuttering and I could not make myself understood. I could not speak and it was difficult to live. Worse, I was the object of mockery and imitation so I could not fully participate in games and in class. The teacher did not know that stuttering was a handicap, for people who stutter (PWS), and also ignored the negative consequences suffered by me. Therefore, everyone in my school as well as my family disregarded the burden of my stuttering.

Thus when I started to stutter, my family shouted at me to stop stuttering. That made my stuttering worse.. In my heart I had trouble understanding why I was the object of mockery and provocation, by my friends, because of my stuttering. I used many remedies to try to stop stuttering. I used traditional local practices which included: a slap with a shoe, drinking water, washing utensils, drinking a combination of traditional plants, throwing eggs on my face when I started to stutter. Despite all attempts at treatment, nothing changed and my stuttering persisted.

With the advent of the Internet in Mali, I decided to do some research on modern methods of treatment and to understand more about the different types of stuttering through the website of the French National Stuttering Association This research gave me a lot of satisfaction, hope and courage to fight against my stutter.

So I joined the association Overcoming Stuttering created by Ms. Diallo in 2005 to better cope with the handicap of stuttering and help others, especially my fellow stutterers. Within this association I became a leader in the fight against stuttering in Mali. Today we manage to help a lot of people and children who stutter and remove the isolation and demystify stuttering in Mali.

Today we are able to hzan and stefanelp or support many comrades who stutter to overcome their stuttering.

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My History — 38 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story Zan. It is great to hear you are making such a difference and hopefully preventing others from having the difficult experiences you had when you were younger. Would you be able to tell us more about how you demystify stuttering in Mali?

    • In Mali each year we organize the stuttering World newspaper. We take this day to inform, sensitize stutterers and parents and politicians also interpellate the stuttering disability in the child development . Through our various activities the activities of the stuttering World day are included in the program of the month of the fight against poverty and solidarity organized from 1st to 30th October every year for over 10 years. Nationally association of stuttering Mali is a member of the Malian Federation of Associations of Disabled People . The federation supports us in our different actions from policy makers. The members also in the fora in Africa and elsewhere. These allow different interests to have more knowledge about new methods of treatment and the causes of stuttering

      • Hello Gillian;
        Also orginise of broadcasts on radio and television on stuttering . it advises people who stutter and their parents with the modern methods of treatment of stuttering : breathing techniques , relaxation , extension of the techniques of the first letter aloud reading, speaking in the group. The level of stuttering stutterers who follow these different sessions are regularly reduced

  2. Zan, Interesting article and congratulations on the important work you are doing in Mali. For several years I have been collecting examples of what people try to cure their stuttering. Your list was very interesting. I have also been collecting what people thought CAUSED their or child’s stuttering. Do you have any examples of what people thought caused stuttering in the you or your country? Would you mind if I added the treatment information that you tried to my list of “Folk Myths About Stuttering” on the Stuttering Home Page (direct URL is

    • Thank Judith you for intervention was not so far conducted a survey stutterers about the causes of their stuttering. But the majority of parents who come with children think of heredity of stuttering. in the answers of the questions they find that these relatives are affected by stuttering.
      Today the parents of stutterers and adults who stutter are no longer trusts traditional methods stuttering treatment. With the creation of their association explains the existence of modern methods of treatment by the speech therapist and other therapists and explain how one should behave facing a stutterer in society. I would come after you fill in your website

      • Thank you, Zan. Your work, and the work a several other friends in Africa (like Joe Lukong, Joe Nsbuga, Moussa Dao, and others) to provide good information about stuttering has changed many lives in Africa. I’m grateful that I can include additional “folk myths” and also happy for the work you have done to help people learn better ways to deal with stuttering.

  3. Hello Zan. Thank you so much for sharing your story. As Gillian asked, I would appreciate it if you can tell us more about how you demystify stuttering in Mali. Your knowledge and experience can be helpful to other communities, especially in Africa.

    • Hi Hanan;
      In Mali each year we organize the stuttering World newspaper. We take this day to inform, sensitize stutterers and parents and politicians also interpellate the stuttering disability in the child development . Through our various activities the activities of the stuttering World day are included in the program of the month of the fight against poverty and solidarity organized from 1st to 30th October every year for over 10 years. Nationally association of stuttering Mali is a member of the Malian Federation of Associations of Disabled People . The federation supports us in our different actions from policy makers. The members also in the fora in Africa and elsewhere. These allow different interests to have more knowledge about new methods of treatment and the causes of stuttering

  4. Thanks a lot for Sharing Zan. Interesting article. I like the determination you had in getting the right services and the desire to helping others. Keep the good work and continue creating more stuttering awareness.

  5. Thank you for sharing! I’m interested in the different treatments that are local to Mali. Have you had success with incorporating modern methods of treatment within the community which may still focus on the Mali treatments? Is there a way you were able to incorporate BOTH methods of treatments for those who hold a strong belief in the methods you described (throwing egg on your face, washing utensils, etc)? Also, I would love to learn the reasoning behind these Mali methods, if you have a chance to discuss this!

    • With the creation of the association on stuttering in Mali reached Us Search local providers Who interresent stuttering . These providers have accompanied us in our demarche . Thus we managed to bring together people who stutter to speak their stuttering was a subject very little debated in Mali. Despite limited knowledge of providers we managed to organize sensitization sessions all weekend. Stutterers and parents are aware of the causes , and préventations of stuttering.

      • Thank you for the reply, Zan! That is truly great that you were able to bring awareness and support to your country! I’m a Graduate Student in America, and we learned how other countries have their own theories and stuttering remedies. I enjoyed reading your story about Mali’s local practices and I found it interesting how different the world around us can be! Could you tell me briefly what organization or routine your sensitization sessions are like? Thank you again and I appreciate being able to have a conversation with someone across the world!

  6. Hi Zan,

    Thank you for sharing your story! You are very brave and inspiring for seeking a solution for yourself and for supporting others in finding a treatment that will help with their stutter. I am curious to know what specific treatments or techniques helped you to cope with your stuttering.

    Thank you,


    • Hello Nora,The association organizes rehabilitations sessions every Saturday morning from 10am to 12pm GMT with the support of the SLP. During the sessions we explain the speech mechanism especially the role of the vocal cord, abdominal breathing, relaxation, reading aloud and especially also the discussion group between stutterers person in the absence of orthophiste. With the group we share diffucultés and tips to better cope with stuttering.
      it has benefited from the support of speech therapy students from the University of Lille in France who came every year in Mali also ensured the care of children.

      • Hi Zan,

        Thank you so much for your prompt reply! Wishing you continued success!!!

        Nora Naval

        • Hi Nora,
          Thank you, are you satisfied with my answer. you’re stutterer person or therapist?

          • Hi Zan,

            I am studying to become a Speech Language Pathologist. Our Professor referred us to this website. I have enjoyed reading your story as well as the other stories posted on this website. It is wonderful that there is a community that provides support and empowers people who stutter as well as teaches others (like me) about stuttering!

            Thank you ,

  7. Hi Zan

    I found your story very incredible. It amazes me that you are the founder of the Overcoming Stuttering association and that you are giving back to other stutterers in such a helpful way. What are some of the modern methods of treatment that helped you overcome your stutter? Do you still use any the same practices today? Thank you for sharing your story!


    • Hi Jessica;
      Speech therapy or modern method is very poorly developed or méconue in Africa and Mali. With the creation of the association we close some therapists who interested to talk about stuttering orthophiqiue treatment of stuttering. Members of the association brings together all weekend to talk about stuttering. Erasm the technique practice reading aloud, public speaking, relaxation exercise and is also exerted on the pronociation vowels and consumed. It also organizes radio and TV broadcasts to talk about stuttering. Students in speech of univerté Lille mission in Mali participate in the session rééduction stutterers. They guide us and offer games. It has also received support from a therapist specializing in French Technical Cognitive Behavioral. With it we worked a lot on assertiveness.


  8. Hi Zan,

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story! I could only imagine how difficult it was for you to be ignored and tormented in your classroom and at home because of your stutter. I was wondering if you ever tried talking to your teacher, classmates, or family members about your stutter to help them understand that stuttering is not something to be ashamed of? If so, were they understanding and did it make you feel more comfortable with your stutter? Also, what strategies or techniques do you feel helped you the most? Thank you in advance!


    • Michelle thank you for reading my story.
      First, stuttering child was neglected in the family and in schools. and attitudes were not as developed.
      In Mali, some stutterers have realized this and courage to create an association in order to stutterers out of isolation and to which I belong. In Mali we not have structural support and qualified personnel for the management of stuttering. It is the internet that allowed me to understand and better vehicle messages on stuttering through Francophone sites. We exchange SLPs Francophone countries for thérapiques methods to use and the experiences of people who stutter, cooperation with students in speech therapy for internships and support missions stutterers there with the association of speech therapists in France for us support and participation in conferences stuttering permi me to understand and share the stuttering treatment strategy. Thank you

      • Hi Zan,

        Thank you for sharing your stories and doing the wonderful work you are doing! I have an uncle who was even laughed at by his mother, my grandma, when he stuttered. That was also a time when modern knowledge of stuttering was not widespread in Taiwan. You mentioned the involvement of Francophone SLPs in Mali. Could you elaborate a little? Are there native SLP’s in Mali yet to address the problems of stuttering? Or are there professionals under another title available?

  9. Hi Zan,

    I want to thank you for sharing your powerful and emotional story with everyone. This really puts stuttering and the affect it can have on an individual into perspective. I have a few questions for you, of course, if you feel comfortable responding to them. One questions I have is if you feel that society has started to change their perspective of stuttering. You had mentioned that anger and ignoring the stutter was commonly used as you grew up. Do you feel this is still a typical practice of family, friends, and/or society? Another question I have is if, with more education and familiarity of stuttering as you grew, do you feel your communication partners respond differently to your stuttered events differently now? Again, I really found your post very powerful for readers and want to thank you for your openness with your ongoing experience.


    • Hi Dani
      With the creation of the Association we dared speak of stuttering in the media and ask for help to close the authorities to conduct awareness campaigns. What makes stuttering was quickly understood and accepted by the population. We managed to demystify stuttering and change the mentality of people who stutter on methods of traditional treatment of stuttering. I am glad to have some help change things for people who stutter in Mali. I do not let myself be influenced by others, today I manage to talk about stuttering, the combination of activities and to convey a message of awareness around me. Thank

  10. This is such a powerful story. Thank you for sharing. It’s heartwarming to know that there are leaders like you empowering PWS in Mali. Keep up the great work.

  11. Hi Zan,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, it provided a unique perspective on how stuttering treatments vary across the world. I am so sorry you felt like a burden for so many years. I was wondering if your stuttering improved any after joining the Overcoming Stuttering association and being exposed to modern methods of treatment?


    • Hi Chelsea thank you for reading my story
      The association was a framework that allowed me to better understand stuttering and invert me voluntarily to support other stutterers. In Mali or Africa stuttering is not spoken in public. The association helps stammerers to speak and share experiences and sufferings.

  12. Zan,
    Thank you for sharing your story about your experiences with handling and experimenting with treatments for your stutter throughout the years. I am wondering where you found the remedies in Mali to stop stuttering (e.g. drinking a combination of traditional plants, and throwing eggs at your face upon stuttering). Did you consult a professional in Mali about these remedies? Did others in your community who stuttered successfully use these treatments to help their stuttering? Or were these attempts to stop your stuttering ideas that you came up with on your own? Looking back on these attempts now, were they at all successful? Did they make your stuttering worse or did it stay the same? Were there other people in your area (possibly in your community) who stuttered?
    – Victoria

    • Hi Victoria,
      Traditional treatments I talked in my speech are effective in Mali or Africa. To exit the stuttering we oriented modern or speech therapy for stuttering. we work with therapists who interressent stuttering Mali and exchanges with French orthophiniques.

  13. Hi Zan, this was such a joy to read. I often don’t have the opportunity to learn about the social aspect of speech issues in areas other than my own. I can’t imagine how much it hurts to be mocked by peers, educators, friends, and family. I was interested in learning more about the remedies you attempted and their origins. That section has also made me interested in myths surrounding stuttering in my own area.

    • HI Krausmli
      Thank you for your contribution, it is interesting to share experiences and stories about stuttering. Many Thanks

  14. Hi Zan Camara,
    Thanks for sharing your experience! I live in the United States and I really appreciate learning about how stuttering is perceived and treated in other parts of the world. In a previous reply to another comment, you mentioned that speech therapy still has a long way to go in Africa to catch up to modern research. Have you noticed any change in the social perception/treatment of people who stutter since the foundation of your organization? Do you think teachers have more awareness about stuttering now relative to when you were a child? Thank you for your courage and commitment to change.

    • Hi Christine
      I can not confirm if there’s an awareness of teachers compared to stuttering. It will conduct a study to find out. But within the association pondered this issue and organized a teacher training year during the World Day of Stuttering 2014. But not enough financial resources to train many teachers in Mali and this Year October 27, 2015 the journalist will be formed on stuttering

  15. Dear Zan,
    I am a current graduate student studying about stuttering and communicative disfluencies. In class, we discuss how different cultures may view stuttering. Your story shows how education can help shape a society’s understanding of this communication topic. I admire your dedication to helping others overcome their stutter. It was also inspiring that you withstood criticism in order to find the appropriate compensatory techniques that were best suited for you. Do you think that your work in the Association of Mali Overcoming Stuttering has brought enough information to your country to change the negative perception of stuttering to a more positive one? Thank you for your time.

    • Hi toni rose

      Thank you for reading my story;
      The creation of our association was a great relief for people who stutter and parents of stutterers. We managed to talk about stuttering in the media: TV and radio in Bamako and involve policy makers to understand stuttering. Thus our association receives financial support from the authorities for the World Day of Stuttering every year in the month of solidarity and the fight against exclusion in Mali is held in October each year Mali, which coincides with the World Day of Stuttering. From the creation of the association in 2005, there are over 200 stutterers who have joined the association. October 27 it was decided to train journalists and communicators on stuttering with the support of the authorities which will better convey stuttering in society and understanding of stuttering within society. In 2010 ; the authorities have helped us support the movement of French speech therapist Sylvie Brignone for a tour of 15 days in Mali for the management of stuttering. The association is a member of the federation of associations of disabled people in Mali and working for the creation of a support center of stuttering Mali.