6 February 2013

Cameroon: The Deafs Take Turns in Voter Registration

Seven minutes were enough for 20-year-old Nganou Tchoumi to have his finger prints taken, photograph shot, and names inscribed into the biometric registration kit. Tchoumi, deaf like his many friends, thronged the premises of Election Cameroon (ELECAM's) office for Yaounde I Subdivision at Rue Draggage, Mballa II yesterday February 6, to be part of the ongoing recompilation of voters' lists.

Being his first time, Tchoumi, like 34-year-old Fanny Ata Akono, was seemingly excited to witness the process. But to succeed, sign language was indispensable in the case of Tchoumi. "I took more than five minutes on him because I had to find out complementary information about him like the names of his parents," Pauline Etoga, Registration Officer at ELECAM Yaounde I Subdivision, explained. This was because Nganou Tchoumi only had a National Identity Card receipt that does not contain some personal details. Etoga said she takes maximum five minutes to register an able-bodied person.

"It becomes complicated and time-consuming when a deaf person comes to you with the receipt of an Identity Card," she added. It becomes much more complicated especially those who can not fill in forms indicating what information is needed that this is not found on the receipts. "This is the reason we ask those with receipts to come along with copies of their birth certificates", she explained. And as the ELECAM boss for Yaounde I, Yves Bertrand Zanga explained, such cases abound.

The Cameroon Deaf Development Organisation (CDDO) organised the launch of registration yesterday to sensitise the deaf and dumb on the importance of being part of nation-building through the exercise of their civic duties. "We organised a workshop to mobilise the deaf and dumb to be part of this exercise. That is why we can see a good number of them streaming in here to get registered for upcoming elections," CDDO Chief Executive Officer, Marcellin Atangana Tsala, said. Since registration is not only limited to the Mfoundi Division, CDDO is working hard on mobilising the deaf and dumb nationwide to get registered into the voters' lists. The association is working with some political parties and the campaign is partnered by Sight Savers Cameroon.

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