A young Nigerian, Omei Bongos-Ikwue, shone like a thousand stars in Accra Ghana, as she rose above speech impairment to emerge victorious in a keenly contested international speech competition.
Bongos – Ikwue, member of the Abuja District of Toastmaster, an affiliate of the Toastmasters International, a worldwide non-profit educational organisation that empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders, defied her congenital stuttering challenges to achieve the feat.
Her winning speech, entitled, “Release it” focused on the themes of bravery, passion and generosity, which she used a moving story to illustrate. The speeches were judged on content, organization, gestures and style.
Speaking on what inspired her victory as a public speaker, in spite of her speech impairment challenge, she said: “When it comes to connecting with an audience, Toastmasters, as an organisation, has taught me how to be confident and focused. In fact, since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers/communicators.
“It has shown me that every speaking opportunity is an opportunity to inspire people in an unforgettable way that a host of other Toastmasters have always inspired me.”
With this victory, Bongos-Ikwue is poised to secure a spot in the World Championship of Public Speaking scheduled to take place at the Toastmasters International Convention, to be held on August 25, in Chicago, Illinois, United States of America. She will compete with 105 other winners from districts around the world.
The very elated Nigerian lady, said representing her district at the international speech contest “feels like the decisive stamp of victory over my speech impediment,” adding that she was “looking forward to competing on a much larger stage in Chicago.”
Bongos-Ikwue is public health editor for E-Proofers, based in Abuja.
The Toastmasters International Speech Contest began in 1938, and is the world’s largest speech contest, involving 30,000 participants from 141 countries.
It culminates in the popular World Championship of Public Speaking, held annually at the organisation’s international convention.