The beauty of Diversity… perspective from an interdisciplinary study

I asked some of my friends what they love about Africa (The Motherland) because I wanted to know how my friends view their communities, what makes them fall in love with their surroundings and the people around them. Why did I do this you may ask? Well a couple of months ago I fell in love, I fell bad, I was in really deep (I still am )  with Africans, their diversity, spirit, tolerance and their shared love for cultural ( food and clothes) diversity.  I mean I have always had a deep love for my own country but I did not feel the same way about other African countries until I made friends who are from various other African countries.

Currently, I am falling in love with interdisciplinary studies. Research disciplines much like Africans have their diversity embedded in them from diverse methodologies to different ways in which they impact or influence the communities they are communicated to. Contrary to popular belief Africa is not all that poor, hungry and disease infested. To us Africans, Africa is home, it is a place where we build friendships, communities and ultimately connect with each other from one country to another. It is with pleasure that I share with you what my friends had to say about Africa, our home.

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Andrianina (Madagascar)

Andrianina is a working mother of 3 who is really passionate about child and youth development in Madagascar. She works on various programs that educate the youth about the repercussions of crime and corruption. Andrianina has a lovely sense of humour, is fond of nature and enjoys having a good meal. “Among Malagasy typical lunch, what I like the most is crushed cassava leaves mixed with a bit of fat pork Huummm so yummy it melts in your mouth” (she really did write that). I recommend this to you if you ever come to Madagascar.   I also love romazavz royal it is also among the best foods”

Kevin (Zimbabwe)

Speaking to Kevin made me realize how unique and precious the spirit of Ubuntu is. He says “I appreciate the togetherness, in the sense that it really does take a village to raise a child I know this from my cousins who are in Australia. They talk about how raising their children with just the grandparents is not the same as having the community around you guide their children when they need it” Kevin also appreciates the diversity of languages and how “somehow they are organized in a way that works for all of us”. He is also a lover of good African cuisine.

Having interacted with young people from various African countries I have learned that we as Africans appreciate different things about the Africa we love. What stood out for me in the interactions is that the diversity in our way of life is the very essence of our humanity. Much like Africans, research disciplines are different they are set on different fundamentals and principles which need to need to be respected particularly if one wishes to engage in an interdisciplinary study. Since I started working on an interdisciplinary study, combining agricultural extension with media, I have found new respect for interdisciplinary studies. I have always loved film and media (radio and print media), however, working with media on an academic space has made me appreciate the level of influence the discipline of media has over people’s lives.

Interdisciplinary studies are both intriguing and challenging Starting my PhD I knew I would enjoy integrating agricultural extension with media, what I did not anticipate was me falling in love with media and the possibilities it presents for agricultural extension that really shook me. Working on this project means more than just bringing together two disciplines, it means tapping into bigger and better levels of communicating science in our streets both locally and internationally. I cannot help but stop being ignorant an unbothered about what happens in other disciplines in terms of producing and communicating information to society. Just like how every culture is unique and important to a specific tribe and yet when brought together they make up the beautiful diversity of a country and even continent, all disciplines of research are an integral part of our communities.

working on an interdisciplinary study

Within the research space, we have to work together because at the end of the day the goal is to improve our communities be it corporate, social, business or science communities. We must be willing to step out comfort zones and into understanding the complexities of existing in an academic space.

 “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. ~ African proverb

Thank you for the music … from a PhD student

It’s that time of the year where one naturally thinks about what motivates them to continue with their PhD journey” There are factors that are constantly my motivation such as my family, friends, and food and of course inspirational books.  Music is also a constant motivator in my journey It really comes through for me be it I am excited about my work or I just have no idea what the next step will be. So I would love to pay some respect to the songs that I refer to as my “soldier on songs”   since I started my PhD journey as I look forward to learning new songs throughout the year.

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 The Script “Hall of fame

This is my “girl one day this PhD will make you famous” song. There is a verse in this song which says “do it for your country, do it for your name …” Embarking on my PhD has made me realize how important the work that we as researchers do regardless of the disciplines we are in. The research may seem small and insignificant at the moment, however, I believe that some of it is the foundation upon which future research projects will be established. Research is a work of service because research projects are not designed to benefit (knowledge outcomes or innovations) the researcher alone but they are meant to better the lives of those who come in contact with the project. I apply myself to research in service of the people in my community and hopefully, someday the people in my country and beyond will also benefit from the work I do. This way my name will be written in the “hall of fame” and no, this does not mean the reference section of published articles that will have cited my work but the lives of people my research will help.

In the words of The Script “Be students, be teachers, be politicians, be preachers be believers, be leaders be astronauts, be champions” and I add Be Researchers!!!

Thandiswa mazwayi “ Nizalwa ngobani” ( have you forgotten where you come from)

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The inspirational women of my life

This is the one song that keeps reminding me that as a young aspiring researcher I am standing on the shoulders of great women who have been trailblazers in their own right in shaping the world we live in. Women have not always had it easy (nor do they have it easy nowadays) particularly in the workspace. They are underestimated and sometimes expected to conform to unethical behaviour just to get their feet on the doors of their career paths. Having been a victim of patriarchal behaviour myself I appreciate and applaud the women who despite the enormous challenges they face in their workspaces they have soldiered on for themselves while paving the way for those who come after them. I guess these women, like me, when the going gets tough they always remember the place of their dreams and hard sacrifices that they come from.

Towards the end of this song Thandiswa pays a special tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, it is this part of the song that always makes me think we have rich heritage of women in this country be it teachers, lawyers, cleaners, women who sweep the streets we walk on, influencers, bloggers and women in many other career paths who through their work have shaped the world we live in . That is where we come from.

Lira “be about it

“Lira puts it beautifully when she writes about one making a choice about what they want to do in the world “Think about it, Speak about it, Be about it …”I remember listening to this song and it reminded me of a Tedx Talk that I once watched. The talk was delivered by Kakenya Ntaiya, who was sharing her journey about staring at a girl’s school in Kenya.

kakenya Ntaiya
Kakenya Ntaiya

In her talk, Kakenya Ntaiya explains what inspired her to start a girl’s school in a village where young girls and women were not allowed to get an education. I remember thinking to myself “this woman is goals, when I grow up I want to be like her”. In my view, Kakenya embodies what Lira calls us forth to do through her song as she continues to transform the lives of young girls in her village while inspiring many across the globe like me. At times when I’m discouraged (particularly by my methodology not coming together) I do what Lira encourages us to do I think about it, I speak about it and then I go on to be about my research because I have de decided to become a researcher

Truth is we will not always be disciplined to carry out our research work sometimes we need motivation until we conquer.  “When you’re fighting for it all your life, You’ve been working every day and night that’s how a superhero learns to fly every day, every hour, turn the pain into powerThe Script