That’s my line

Since I began my postgraduate research — trials at Mariendahl and ultimately lab analysis — I have found a new appreciation for the weekend, a sincere one. Like most aspiring academics, I use weekends to catch up on work, yes. But Chido (my roommate who happens to love the weekend) always says, “God

Chido and I when we are not movie watching

was not a fool when he created the weekend.” What do I do at the farm on the weekend? I watch movies. Well… only sometimes when work is slow — ok… most of the time. So I thought I should share movie lines that have become so significant to me that I sometimes use them to express how I feel. Therefore, behold, my borrowed wisdom:

1. “Petition the courts if you must, but do something about it and stop complaining” (Hidden Figures)
The excitement I had about my analysis died a sudden death on

My best friend , EXY

the first day of fat analysis. On this day I mixed up my samples, spent the whole day weighing and shaking the wrong samples (I died inside upon this realization). Anyway, by the end of the first day I remember calling Sesetu (Twin) and Xatyiswa (BFF) and sharing with them my not-so-pleasant experience and they, being such go-getters, referred me to the movie where I head this revolutionary line. You see the thing about these two people is that they don’t allow themselves and me to wallow in self-pity for more than a minute. To them an entire day of self-pity is equivalent to suicide. Self-pity and complaining is the death of action. The line caught my attention like a hook on the right cheek — so much that I paused the movie and started packing my bag for round two of the match against lab work.

Sethu and I
Spot the difference…

2. Sometimes the place you’re in is not where you belong (Queen of Katwe)
Three weeks in the lab and my arms were painful, the milling machine was broken and the horror of all horrors was that the fiber analysis results were not making sense (another death). So during that weekend I did what I do to get back in the game; I gave myself another movie fix. Ironically when I heard this one I was reassured that I should just walk away from it all (Laughs), and my tired self was quick to conclude, “It’s so true, I don’t belong in that lab anymore” (Laughing very hard). Eventually I came to my senses, I mean it’s not every day the machine will just breakdown and analysis results will have to be re-done. So then I reminded myself that for the duration of the analysis, I belonged in the lab in fact it was home, well for the most part of the day.

3. This is war gentleman, there are no rules (Think like a man, act like a lady)
It is strange how much a chicken trial is like war! No, not the blood, guns, and screaming. But in both there are rules of engagement and believe you me they ought to be mastered if one is to succeed. And in both you will still have disasters striking even when you do stick to the rules! I sometimes think about this line and I am reminded that in war, there are times to regroup and refocus because maybe the original plan isn’t working…. War definitely sounds like my experiments and lab work but I’m enjoying every bit of it.
4. You sir, you’re the boss, you just have to act like it ( Hidden figures)
This one is my absolute favorite and I’ll tell you why. It is spoken by a woman who in her work place had identified her obstacle (some guy who won’t acknowledge her work to her boss thus hindering her progress). To her it felt like her very existence and ultimately her purpose was being undermined and so she did what had to be done, or in this case said what should have been said. I also like it because it reminds me to decide I’m in control of my life — you know like I’m the boss and I should act like one. Standing up for yourself is never really easy but when it’s the only thing between you and what you really want then one must do it. So every now and then I always remind myself “Sipokazi, you’re the boss, you just have to act like it.”
There’s a quite a number of them I can quote and share but these ones are the most significant at this moment in my life. I hope the next time you face a weekend of work you will be reminded that sometimes it’s more constructive to watch an inspiring movie 😉

My people, our food

I only have one word to describe Africa, DIVERSE. In this continent there exists more than eight thousand dialects spoken among three thousand tribes that to me is diversity defined! In the past three months I have had the pleasure to experience a bit of that diversity through living with housemates from Zimbabwe, Uganda and of course the rainbow nation. Come to think of it even the chickens had a bit of diversity (in terms of behaviour)… I mean there was one naughty cage. I tell you, those birds would even poke my pants! And then there were my sweet babies, always well behaved (laughs).

Food production in process

Food matters at house no. 24

Anyway, my housemates and I have a lot in common, maybe because we are all students or it could be that our similarities emanate from the fact that we are all nourished by the African sun and our history is stained with the rich soil that produce precious stones. Nonetheless there is a significant difference in the food we eat. Believe you me in this regard (p ˂ 0.005). My house mates from Zimbabwe prefer SADZA (pap) on any day to most dishes. To them it’s their thing and without it they are “food insecure”. On the other hand there’s me, I always feel “food insecure” when I have no vegetables and of course meat. We sometimes explore each other’s meals but what I realised was, though I may like how each dish tastes, I may not necessarily regard it as food for nourishment. Same goes for the rest of the house. I never though diversity would be evident even in food. A simple meal (well, simple in my view) is complicated and sometimes unacceptable to some of my housemates because they didn’t grow up eating such foods and it won’t fulfil their hunger.

There is always hope

Yes, our food is different, but there is beauty in it. I guess as researchers we are trying to find an answer to the same question in different ways for various communities; these ways based on the environment, availability and acceptability of the foods we are so desperate to produce. The quest for food security in Africa is not new, neither is it impossible to attain. I believe food security challenges on our continent can be solved through our diverse strategies to make Africa better — research being one of them. For that reason I will continue to pursue excellence and appreciate diversity in even in food. It’s only been a year into my research about animal production and already I’m thinking it’s too late to quit now. There must be something I can do to redefine the state of our continent… (Sigh).

Food and more food is what I’m striving for.