Journeying through….and I am confirming what most have been asking me, or have worried about – YES, I am on my next most interesting project (or should I call it my new lifestyle), PHD.
Why would I want to torture myself with all the reading, researching, writing, and talking about one single thing? I don’t know everything that I can give as an answer, and if I can just hint, then it’s the most beautiful thing in my career right now. Just spending time asking and answering questions about young people in contemporary Africa makes my life beautiful. Asking questions that everybody else thinks are crazy, or reading things that annoy me to ‘percoting’ (My nephew taught me this word means- nausea- not true).
It’s alright when my peers ask me where I am heading with this PHD project – lots of controversial answers are given; like teaching, politics, family, blablabla. But it’s not funny when my nieces and nephews complain too much about I having no school holidays, not wearing uniform and not bringing home gifts for being position one in class. They also can’t comprehend why I don’t take subjects like Math, English, Swahili and Science. And my Social Studies is too complicated for them to understand.
It’s weirder when people still ask me what I do for a living and I tell them I am still in school full-time. Recently, I told my landlady that I was a student, and she had this look on her face, that confirmed her fears, she is one of those radical kids whose parents are rent them a house only to end up watching series and partying- never goes to school! I am ever indoors, in an office of meeting someone about my research. Unlike a younger neighbour I have, who spends her daytime dancing to One Direction and the like, I have grown to hate the screen, and can only listen to selected radio programme when time permits. I have a kind of weird schedule. I am in and out of the house irregularly even our caretaker wonders what I do. I walked into a Mobile and Internet service providers complaining about my data usage and calling times. Luckily, they had solutions! But I am not sure this is the future yet...
These days in Nairobi, it’s all about avoiding the city and its hustle, because I lose my patience in traffic, and all my researching creativity dwindles. It is about spending lone times calling, reading writing and meeting my target group. The fun thing though is that, it’s all about being snoopy – I love listening to people’s conversations on matatu’s especially on the Kenyan politics, where people are hustling, and what they think about the young people.
And so last week I overheard these middle aged men talking about the young people getting into drugs. ‘They are making decisions out of their foolishness’, one of them said. I wished then, I was sitting next to them to dialogue with them on this ‘foolishness’. I wanted to get deeper into their views, and I wanted to make this part of my research. I tried to open my ears wider to catch the rest of the conversation, but the pop music on my matatus could not allow. Oh no! I just had to note what these men thought of my research subjects! But I will keep trying to track some of these fun unplanned events of my research life.
For this year, I will blog on a series of Research Questions (RQ Series). Not because I won’t have answers to them, but I guess there will be more opportunity to asking my questions loudly. I hint I will be researching young people, I will be researching young women and I will be researching agriculture. I will be writing a lot. I will be travelling a lot, rural, local and low budget; probably accompanied or alone. I will follow Snoopy, in the hope that it will motivate me as I continue being in that state.
In parallel, I will be reading African literature - and this month I start with Margaret Ogola’s ‘Mandate of the People’. Await a review and the first set of questions.