Kenneth M. Yali Diouf
NIGERIA



About me
I am a hearing impaired man and I work as a teacher of deaf youths in a private deaf school here in Nigeria. I also work with the Deaf Liberty Gospel Ministries, the Gospel Outreach to the Deaf Mission and the Deaf Christian Church of God.

My Story
There are many promising and intelligent young deaf people in Africa, but they often lack adequate educational opportunities and are denied fair treatment in day-to-day life. As a consequence low self-esteem is common and many fail to fulfil their potential. There are so many young deaf people that maintain the mentality that although they are in the world, it is not theirs to explore, conquer, and enjoy. We think things have to be this way because people who do not realise their true potential.

My own childhood has taught me how hard it is for deaf children to succeed in school and in life, but it has also shown me that there are homes where deaf people are greatly loved and respected and provided for by their parents and relations. Opportunities are created or sought for them to improve their education and economic life. These privileged deaf people are often able to contribute to family and society, sometimes helping and supporting their parents, sisters and brothers in the same way that they were helped.

I was born in the Republic of Niger in French–speaking West Africa. Yali Diouf Papa (my father) married three other wives and had twelve children, among whom I stand 4th, but I am the 2nd child among my mother’s eight children. My mother told me that when I was born, she was taken ill and stayed in hospital for up to one year. I am not told the kind of illness she suffered from. But as I grew up, I became aware that my dad didn’t love me much. I often heard insulting words being thrown at me. What accounted for this cannot be separated from the fact that I didn’t display smartness, intelligence or perhaps common sense as a child. The word I used to be familiar with when translated from the vernacular is: “STUPID!”

I was a slow learner. Consequently I earned serious canings, both in school, and at home. I failed to pass the Primary School Leaving Examination. So instead of me spending the customary six years in primary school, I spent eleven long years there. I dropped out of school and my dad began to make plans to enlist me in the army. But one day the principal of the town’s only secondary school said something that indicated his desire for me to go back to school; he said he wanted to see my father. I informed my dad, and both men met. What happened next was that I found myself again in Primary 6 for the fourth time.

During my primary school years, I carried a very tiny fluctuating tinge of deafness as well as being a stammerer, though as we grew older the stammering bouts in my speech gradually disappeared.

As a teenager, when I was spoken to, I would request a repetition of the spoken words. Other times it would happen that though I heard, I would not respond immediately until the words were repeated violently and loudly, or until after they had said, “Look, we are speaking to him, but he wont hear!” One day my mother took me through a dictation. As she corrected the work, she commented that this and that word was misspelled because of “inattention” on my part.

Nevertheless, with each primary class repeated, I gradually began to rise from the bottom of the ladder at school. However the suspected hearing deficiency was determined to stay and grow, even though it was not confirmed medically until I was between nineteen and twenty years of age.

A year after my return to school, I finally passed the examinations. I finished primary school late and started secondary school late. In secondary school I did well in geography, history, science, and French, but trouble started again when I came to learn English which is taught as a third language in secondary schools in Niger. My inability to understand this strange foreign language with its strangely written and pronounced words made me a laughing stock among the other students.

The hearing problem was still there, but it didn't prevent me from learning the vernacular and French languages and to hear other languages spoken. I was privileged not to be pre-lingually deaf, which, has prevented many deaf people from developing any language skills. Often deaf people have problems with grammar, word and sentence building.

Despite my problems, I was determined to fight off the stigma and embarrassment of being the class's laughing stock, so one day I picked up my English notebook and read and memorized hard. I got the spirit of the English language. After that, my scores were amongst the best. By the time I left secondary school, English language became my best subject.

It was in my third year in secondary school that the hidden hearing problem suddenly become more manifest and more pronounced. I was then 19 years of age. I found myself unable to follow teachers when they discoursed on subjects. I would strain my ears in desperation to hear what they taught. The efforts to hear were to no avail as I missed much of what they said or dictated. At the same time my eye vision became dim or blurred. I saw line upon line of words scribbled on the blackboard, but I could not see well enough to read and take notes unless I went closer to the board.

No illness or any other kind of physical malaise preceded this partial deafness and short-sightedness; it was a complete surprise! I felt despair, anger, and discouragement and became much less interested in school. I became so desperate that I wanted to kill myself, but after a failed attempt, I resolved to live. There would be hope! It was also at this time, that I decided to abandon my families’ Muslim faith in favour of Christianity. This caused a lot of problems within my family – but I was obstinate!

Although the deafness disarmed me on many fronts, I also felt that it had armed me with new instincts of courage, determination, boldness, and confidence on other fronts. I wanted to become a public figure and longed to become a president, but of course that was impossible as opportunities for college and university education were destroyed by my hearing impairment.

When I told my mother about my hearing and sight problems, she was upset. My father told me to keep cool and they did not take any action as it was assumed that I might get over the burden. I also think that perhaps the fact that they could not afford treatment for me prevented them from taking action. Niger is not a developed country and treatment abroad is very expensive. My English teacher, a Ghanaian, asked me to go to the Ghana School for the Deaf and I once saw this nice teacher with my father in our house, but I was never allowed to go and a further opportunity to extend my education was missed.

Meanwhile I became increasingly emotionally troubled and I often didn’t go to school, preferring to read alone in the house or sing songs using old tins as musical instruments.

I was taken to see an audiologist in the only national hospital in the capital city. The audiologist looked like a Chinese or Japanese doctor. This man tested my ears for several hours. He prescribed injections, which my mum, as a nurse administered at home. After the medication, the level of hearing impairment considerably dropped but was not completely annihilated and there was nothing else the doctor could do.

I can hear but I cannot understand speech. I have had ringing, roaring and screeching noises in my ears and sometimes they itch. I can hear the television, the radio, the twitters of birds, and the roars of engines and thunder. I do as well hear the chatter of children, the barks of dogs, bleating of goats, and the shuffling of feet. However, when it comes to understanding spoken speech I have a hard time trying to make out what is spoken unless people repeat the words. However this has often been awkward and embarrassing as people around have their attention drawn toward me. So I often request my speaker to jot down his/her words in order to save time and public embarrassment.

My ability to speak almost perfectly has often tempted people into believing that I can understand them, however sometimes I pretend not to be able to speak so that they have to write everything down! Another effective strategy is to speak but then be quick to indicate, while receiving answers in form of spoken speech, that I am a little deaf. Here improvised signs, a pantomime of speech, are employed for more effective communication.

When words are spoken to me, one at a time, with an interval of few seconds in-between and in a raised tone, I look at the lips of the person speaking. Then I can know the words on the lips, and also hear the words and how they are pronounced. I later mimic the pronunciation in self-training. This way I have learnt to pronounce English words.

My story is typical, but I was lucky to see an audiologist and to have the chance to begin my education. Many parents in West Africa don’t understand the special needs of their deaf children. Sometimes deaf children do not receive the same opportunities as their hearing siblings and are expected to do far more of the household chores. In some homes where parents cannot pay for the furtherance of the education of their deaf daughters they keep them at home year after year. Then they come out into the world with only a tiny residual recollection of sign language, or with none at all. Some deaf children remain illiterate, not knowing anything beyond their own names.

I was lucky because I was able to continue my education, even after I had dropped out of secondary school. I wrote to Dr. Andrew Foster, the black American missionary who was the pioneer of deaf education in Africa, who invited me to study in Nigeria. And so on 1 April 1987 I left Niger for Nigeria.

At the Christian Centre For the Deaf, I saw sign language for the first time. The students, here all looked happy and I began a new life. I managed to master sign language and gradually learnt to accept my hearing problem. I was one of the few students there with a higher level of residual hearing. I felt happier and more at home here than I had ever felt in the difficult hearing world in Niger.

Dr. Andrew Foster, himself, came to the centre several months later. He summoned me to his office one day and asked me to teach English to my deaf colleagues from other French speaking African Countries whose command of English was not so good. He showed me how to teach and ever since I have been in the practice of teaching. I have acquired some skill and experience.

Sadly, Dr. Andrew Foster died on 7th December 1987 in a plane crash somewhere between Central and South Africa. However he pioneered the campaign for the promotion of the education of the deaf in Nigeria and set a very practical example for his host African countries by establishing schools for the deaf across Africa.

Ever since then, Nigeria has produced a sizeable number of educated deaf persons. There are special primary and secondary schools specifically set up for them, along with Federal Colleges for the provision of Special Education. The best-known Special Education College in western Nigeria is the Federal College of Education (Special) in Oyo (Oyo State). Hundreds of deaf and non-deaf persons have graduated from this college to become teachers of deaf people. The universities of Ibadan (Oyo State) and Jos (Plateau State) provide Special Education course, and promote with committed urgency the inalienable right of the education of the deaf and other disabled persons.

Other organisations that help deaf people are the Christian ministries of the deaf and associations of the deaf which exist in different regions of Nigeria.

Future of deaf people in Nigeria
The future of deaf people in Nigeria is dependent on their social and economic empowerment, integration and emancipation. We need to be soundly educated and trained as we grow up, so we can take our destinies in our own hands. Public schools for the deaf should be empowered and equipped with proficient and diligent staff. Non-governmental Organizations with educational programs for the deaf should be encouraged and supported with relevant resources to enable them to render excellent services to the deaf in rural and urban areas.

I think that we should not be daunted by the challenges when we look at how we can achieve our aims but rather we should focus on what we can accomplish by taking action now!


Report from the

5TH LIFE TRANSFORMATION CONVENTION FOR THE DEAF

 held  Thursday, 19th – Sunday, 22nd August 2004

Trinity College of Ministerial Arts
Port Harcourt Road

ABA, ABIA STATE, NIGERIA.

 

Organizing Gospel Coalition Forces

*Evangelist Emmanuel Ogbonna (Host).

Deaf Liberty Gospel Ministries (Aba, Abia State).

     * Pastor Uche Nwode G. Promise.

Gospel Outreach to the Deaf Mission (Enugu, Enugu State).

      *Evangelist Kenneth M. Yali Diouf.

Deaf Reconciliation Ministry (Port Harcourt, Rivers State).

 

WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED!

 (I Corinthians 2:23)

 The fifth (5th) Life Transformation Convention for the Deaf held in the town of Aba in Abia State (Nigeria). Emmanuel Ogbonna first initiated the annual evangelistic convention, which is now jointly organized by frontline leaders in the deaf community. Then this initiative of great weight suddenly earned the response of Kenneth M. Yali Diouf, Uche Nwode G. Promise, and Enyioma Amakwe in South Eastern Nigeria. The ultimate goal of this noble gospel work, since inception, has been to gather young and adult deaf people at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ so they could be taught about God, Jesus and values for living.

The convention is not a denominational annual event. As such it is open to all deaf persons, particularly youths in any denomination within and outside Abia State. Consequently the Holy Spirit has been using the 4-day annual event to break down denominational barriers and prejudices, and healing mutual relationships that have been damaged and embittered along denominational lines. A further proof of the involvement of the Holy Spirit is the increasing number of deaf youths from other denominations attending and ambitiously taking active part in the teaching and preaching work, singing of songs of praise and doing other worthwhile activities. (Catholics attended!) They are learning to know Jesus more and to get instruction in sound doctrine leading to salvation.

·        God said, “I will gather others…I will lead them in paths they have not known… I will make crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them and not forsake them” (Isaiah 58:6; 42:16).

 

Thursday, 19th August 2004

More than two dozens of deaf youths arrived from Umuahia, Enugu, Aba, and Port Harcourt. Only one person came from Bayelsa State. Members of the Deaf Liberty Gospel Ministries were on the campground in time to tidy up the environment and settle all necessary logistics and facilities in place. The level of commitment and discipline on the part of our host was very commendable. Most campers arrived in the afternoon and after nightfall.

Prior to suppertime, the presiding host had all the campers gathered in the conference hall of the Trinity College of Ministerial Arts (venue of the convention) in order to brief them on the purpose of the retreat/convention. Camp laws and rules were read out in sign language. Among the rules enumerated was the need for all to attend all teaching and preaching sessions, to desist from immoral behaviour, fighting, tribalism, denominalism, and the wearing of indecent/sexually provocative dressing.

After prayer of thanks and praise to God the congregation trooped to the dining hall for supper before retiring to their dormitories for the night. (Financial contribution from the leaders themselves and several kindhearted Christian individuals through the convention organizers went into providing free feeding to the youths. Some of the youths are jobless and poor people. Attendance gradually rose to between 80 and 120 people by the end of the convention.)

 

Friday, 20th August 2004

Being awakened between 5.a.m. and 7.a.m. by the dormitory wards and prefects, the people were again soon in the conference hall for the day’s corporate devotion. (Breakfast was skipped throughout the camping period except on Sunday morning. The campers were entitled to only lunch and supper. The withdrawal of breakfast was intended to gently and systematically drill willing youths and leaders in partial fasting). A member of Christian Mission for the Deaf (Abia State branch) led the corporate devotion.

 He said the topic of the devotion was David Praises [GOD], and led the people to read from 2Samuel 22:1-4. A question put to all listeners for personal meditation was: “Think of life today. Have you praised God yet?

Bible study followed immediately after. The topic under consideration was the work of character transformation by the Holy Spirit. Campers were taught in three separate groups about the initial ministry of the Holy Spirit which usually starts with: (a) Conviction for Sin; (b) Conversion of Sinners, and (c) Christian Character.

Mostly deaf students taught Bible study under the supervision of Pastor Josephat Okechukwu of the Deaf Christian Assembly (also known as the Deaf Global Missions, Enugu). Those being taught followed their teachers word for word because the Bible study outline was well documented in the convention handbook. At the end of today’s Bible study the supervisor engaged in a brief recapitulation/review exercise in order to assess how much the deaf young people had assimilated. The exercise was also intended to create opportunities for the youths to ask questions as well as for doubts and errors to be erased from their minds. (Question asking opportunity also arose during corporate devotions!)

Before lunchtime, Pastor Uche Nwode G. Promise of the Gospel Outreach to the Deaf Mission, Enugu, delivered a sermon on the subject of hell. “Is there hell?” was the topic of the sermon with Luke 16:23 and 2 Peter 2:4 as the lead texts. The humble pastor appealed to the youths to escape from hell by repenting of their evil deeds and offensive lifestyles, and turning to Christ for forgiveness. He told them that God would not accept unrepentant evil youths into the kingdom of heaven and that such unholy offenders would end up in the eternal fire with the devil. Other doses of scripture were ministered to the youths, particularly where Christ himself spoke of the imminent horrible experience of unrepentant sinners. Laminated printed reports clipped from local newspapers of three separate individuals who had visions of both hell and heaven were later set before the youths to read for themselves.

Immediately following Uche’s soul disturbing and frightening ministration came the teaching on conviction, repentance, and conversion by Kenneth M. Yali Diouf. Eight (8) youths came out to the altar to surrender their lives to Christ.

The program for the day ended with intercessory prayers for Deaf Ministries, our sponsors, and Nigeria as a whole.

 

Saturday, 21st August 2004.

A member of the Gospel Outreach to the Deaf Mission, Enugu, who had miraculously escaped a ghastly motor accident on his way to the convention venue led today’s corporate devotion. The key scripture that graced the day’s devotion reads as follows: “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house (temple) of the Lord”(Psalm 122:1). Of course, the entire 122nd Psalm was read, but the first verse was the one upon which much stern emphasis was put. The deaf youths were told to cultivate the habit of being glad in their response to invitation to go to church to hear the word of God, and to attend programs like this one. In expostulating further it was said that church attendance would mark a turning point in their lives as experienced by a tempted and erring Asaph in the Bible. The young people were guided to read Psalm 73:1-2, 16-17, 28. The youths were at one point enjoined to reject sinful and discriminatory denominationalism and be glad to participate in healthy conventions like this geared toward their spiritual and moral up building and growth. It was also in a forcible manner explained to the people that if they knew they belonged to God, then they should see their physical bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit. This temple, therefore, should not be defiled through fornication drunkenness, adultery, gluttony, etc. The youths were given 1Corinthians 6:19, Hebrews 9:3, John 17:23, 21 and Isaiah 56:7 to read and ponder thereon.

Pastor Promise delivered lectures on Marriage and Married Life. Captivated and excited youths plied him with millions of questions and he endeavoured to answer them.

Pastor Josephat Okechukwu afterwards got all to sit under his preaching as he deliberated on Acts 10:38 to disclose how God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit to do good and save the captives of the devil. After Pastor Joe came our host who set before us Luke 4:18Anointed to Preach! showing how one could not do any result oriented and convicting preaching without the unction of the Spirit. He challenged the audience to open up to God and receive the Holy Spirit for service in the vineyard of God

FILM SHOW: Deaf People Watch THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST Film!

In the early evening of this Saturday, God miraculously opened the way for us to present for viewing the new film by Mel Gibson about the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ. Film show was not found mentioned on the program timetable. One of the leaders who watched the film for the first time just a few days to the program suggested the viewing. Consequently the impromptu mentioning of the need to have the deaf watch this film sparked a mild disagreement among the leaders. This was because not all the leaders had yet seen this film enough to understand how it could have a powerful life transforming effect on all viewers. Despite the confusion we feared might happen in not adhering to our host’s insistence on keeping rigidly to the timetable, we went ahead one step at a time toward actualizing our desire to show the film.

God readily used the chaplain of the Trinity College of Ministerial Arts to make the necessary contacts on our behalf and the film operators arrived punctually. And there was the film showing! Not one person missed the film. Everybody remained in the conference hall, glued to his or her seat, eyes widely opened and firmly riveted to the screen. A holy attentiveness and solemnity engulfed the whole place as people watched Christ going through the agony of hard praying, betrayal, persecution, rejection and condemnation at the hand of wicked men. Viewers groaned, uttered sighs of pain, and banged desks. As the nails pierced Christ’s hands, people sighed and groaned. Some winced in fright and heart brokenness. Some shed tears. They sympathized with Christ.

After the film was over a pastor was seen hitting his chest. When asked what effect the film had had on them several people bared their minds.

It is an awesome film,” said a hairdresser. “People need to repent and accept Christ quickly.

I could not sleep well last night,” said a lady deaf teacher. “I was awake in bed most of the night.

I want to suffer like Jesus,” said a male student.

Jesus suffered so much,” said a lady. “We must fear God and repent. I have seen this film, I fear. I have seen Jesus. I will go and repent.

The soldier pierced Christ’s side with his spear…” said an elderly deaf man. Water and blood stained the soldier. Then he suddenly fell to his knees looking up to Christ on the cross. What a power there is in Jesus!

In fact almost all minds and hearts were heavily upset! Many became obsessed with the film for many hours on end all of the following day. The Christ they have been told had suffered so much for them became a living inescapable reality through the film. Life styles will be turned round for good henceforth.

 

Sunday, 22nd August 2004.

The impact of the previous night’s film show was still fresh on many minds. Some were seen talking about The Passion of the Christ early in the morning. By half past eight (8:30 a.m.) morning service started with songs of praise and thanksgiving and prayer. Then came Bible study and recapitulation/review, which closed with, “Now if any man(woman) have not the Spirit of Christ, he(she) is none of his” (Romans 8:9).

The last sermon on this final day of the program was titled: He (Christ) Must Reign Till….(1 Corinthians 15:35, Acts 3:19-21). The preacher, Brother Kenneth, showed the kingship of Christ, beginning with Christ’s ascension and his promise to return to earth soon. The preacher showed the youths how that they should be ready to make themselves available to God to use them for evangelistic purposes, good deeds and holy living till Jesus returns. After all Christ had said, Occupy till I come! Feed my lambs! I come quickly!” Otherwise Christ would grind them to powder (Matthew 21:44) if they choose to be his enemies. Constant reference throughout the sermon was made to the film by way of showing the youths that what Christ went through was for their redemption and that Christ’s ascension was a journey to a far country (heaven) and a return is certain as shown in the parables (Matthew 25: 14; Luke 19:12, 20:9).

After offerings, our host rose to thank all who worked hard to keep order in the camp. He expressed regret that the ladies that did the cooking could not be opportune to attend all teaching sessions because of the nature of their work. He prayed God’s blessing over them. Then he announced that Pastor Uche Nwode G. Promise had agreed to accept responsibility for the hosting of the next convention in Ebonyi State (Nigeria).

Camp was dismissed.

 

·        The King (Jesus) will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). Amen.

 

Kenneth M. Yali Diouf
Camp Reporter