Finding people who listen to me is not a daily occurrence. But once in a while, I am lucky to meet people who not only listen to me but enjoy doing so. I too, try to listen to people but often I am too busy hearing my own voice to pay attention to others.
Being in a multi-cultural environment like Stellenbosch means that my poor listening skills are made worse by my genuine lack of understanding of what others are saying. I remember once having the frustration of not understanding the jokes that were being cracked in a group even though they were in English. I just did not get the context of the jokes, and when I could not fake the laughter anymore, I had the embarrassment of having to ask for an explanation, which takes the punch out of the humour.
But today I attended a discussion of a new book 'Accented Futures' whose author is a South-African born academic working in the UK, and it was encouraging to hear from her that conformity is odd or should be odd. Though her book is contextualized within the language discourse, I find her arguments widely applicable, like in my joke debacle above, where I should have taken comfort in being 'odd'.
I had the privilege of meeting the author of this stunning text: Dr. Carli Coetzee, in Helsinki where she laughed almost endlessly at my 'Kenyan' jokes which I told her no one in Stellenbosch finds funny. Given this instant liking we had for each other, I made it my duty to attend the launch of her book at the English department, here in Stellenbosch university. I regretted not having registered in this English department because they serve sushi for refreshments.
I now have every intention of reading Carli's new book, not just because she finds me funny, but because I think the book is entirely worth every minute I will spend on it.
(FYI: I am registered in the School of Public Leadership. They don't serve sushi there but they took us out for very good pizza once).
Labels: Accented futures, Dr. Carli Coetzee, Stellenbosch university