PhD NOT Going

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So I thought by now I would have submitted my PhD proposal, it would be approved and I would have started my fieldwork, well on my way to being Dr Majombozi. But NO, none of that has happened because life just happens. So this entry is just nje about life happening.

“At PhD level…” Has been my supervisor’s soundtrack in my life.  I have never in my life felt as dumb as I feel now as a PhD student. Man, English can show you flames and shame you. Coming from a school where we joked about our English teacher teaching us English in IsiXhosa and not being able to pronounce words and names on our short stories book, I have come a long way with my Engrish. I have spent a lot of time reading and listening to things so I never embarrass myself when speaking in public. Then I realised that I need not to kill myself with this English, that it was okay that I did not write like a first language speaker or even sounded like one. I made a commitment to never even try to sound or write like one. I did it to free myself from all the anxiety that came with presenting at conferences, speaking in seminars, writing essays and so on. I also did it for all the other kids who do not have English as a first language and in fact struggle with English; so that they know that it is possible to write academic work using simple language.When I am giving a lecture in my accent, I want those kids to feel that they have a lecturer they can relate to, lecture slides they understand, readings that make sense and also see that English is not a measure of intelligence. But now here I am, wondering if my struggle with writing English “At PhD level” means I am not smart enough and not ready for PhD. It sucks though because of all the training you put into learning to be better and do better at this English, you slowly lose touch with the beautiful IsiXhosa you once spoke. So you are stuck with not so perfect IsiXhosa and Engrish. It sucks because after all the online English classes, the novels, the debate team, your PhD supervisor can still say, “At PhD level, I expect your writing to be…”

“Life happens during PhD studies”. I have heard a lot of people talk about this but “I am a girl with focus” is what I told myself. Obviously a terrible approach to life because sometimes things just happen. Friends go in and out of hospital, family has troubles (When you are married that is double the trouble), people you love die, people you love lose people they love, the PhD funds run out, you realise black tax is real, you realise your parents are old and you do not want them to die before you do big things for them, you want to do big things for yourself, you want babies, you want to quit the studies, then you want a job, then you change your mind and, and, and, AND. In a nutshell, my life is super chaotic.

Some good news: I did present a paper at the 2016 Anthropology Southern Africa  conference held at University of Venda in September and my paper was well received. It sparked great conversations. I also have another presentation at the 2016 Contemporary Ethnography Across the Disciplines that will be held in Cape Town in November so I am currently focused on putting together my conference paper for that. I am excited about this conference because I will contributing to a panel that discusses issues around language and academia. I am also trying very hard to silence “At PhD Level” comments and slowly building up the confidence I need to work on the 6th draft of my proposal.

Because life happens, I have decided to not just limit this blog to my PhD journey by strictly writing about academics but also to just nje talk about life especially since everything that is happening in my life has an impact on this PhD experience. Kunzima guys but ke, we soldier on.

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