Prior this week, I was last in Bulozi in early 2015. Most of the intervening two years were spent working on drafts of my PhD dissertation in a windowless office in Toronto; a task that was lonely and abstract until it was finally submitted and defended.
Returning to Zambia has re-energized my interest in my work even more than I had foreseen. The ideas explored in my thesis are interesting from afar, but they are more than that when I am here: they are meaningful.
The working side of me immediately felt the momentum of the return. Within hours of arriving in Mongu, I have been able to set up meetings with disability advocates, my former research coordinator, and faculty at the University of Barotseland. In addition, writing feels easier here with words flowing through my keyboard for both blog and journal article material.
In general, I feel very energetic right now. Every day I am able to spring out of bed before 6 a.m. and look forward to greeting people on the side of the road. In wandering through Mongu’s markets I’m able to follow the vendors’ comments about the mukuwa with playful banter, with my ability to speak Silozi returning more strongly after each exchange.
Meanwhile, it also took only hours for me to remember the challenge of trudging through Western Province sand, the swarms of flies and mosquitoes, and the inevitable daytime accumulation of grimy sweat to be flushed off with a weak, cold shower in the evening. At very least, this list of petty annoyances reminds me that there is some dry and brown grass on this side of the fence too.
The upcoming meetings will be very valuable to re-acquaint me to past realities and update me to current ones. Hopefully, this will provide a stable base for a new and exciting phase!