Saturday, June 17, 2006

daga Faisalis Cafe, ran Asabar, 2:21pm

14 June 06 (Thursday)--from journal

Much of my life I've struggled with a crippling shyness--a fear of humiliation that becomes more humiliating than what I feared--an ineptness at dealing with large groups of people (even church), unless I am there in some official capacity: (hostess of party I can manage because I can run around and do things, a conference I can manage because I'm presenting a paper or have an objective in mind.) There is something liberating, therefore, about facing the most humiliating situations possible and transcending them:

ie. being interviewed by Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino on a radio station that reaches potentially millions of people, in a language of which my grasp is tenuous.

When I was growing up my problem in language classes was that I was so afraid of humiliating myself in front of the class that I crippled myself. I wanted the grammar, the accent, everything to be perfect.

Later I discovered that I had to be immersed in an environment--to force myself to communicate as a matter of survival. I realized the other day that my Hausa accent is terrible. But, I'm speaking, and hopefully the accent will improve with time.

So today Ado interviewed me on Radio Freedom. I did OK. My Hausa started breaking down when I tried to talk about my research--which is not good. I couldn't express what I wanted to express. Fortunately, it wasn't live so hopefully they will edit out the worst parts.

That's the first great transcendending humiliation moment. The next one is yet to come... ie. being up on a poster for a conference on Mass Media and Popular Culture to be held at Bayero University on July 12 and 13, and listed as a keynote speaker alongside such Hausa popular culture luminaries like Prof. Abdalla Adamu and Brian Larkin. I found out about the conference when Prof. Abdalla wrote me that I would be speaking at it. I was a little nervous, but I figured it would be good for me to present my ideas in a Hausa environment, where people could give me the best feedback.... It wasn't until I got here that I found out that I have been advertised (on the poster) in universities all over the North as one of the keynote speakers.

I skipped right over the "I'm going to die" stage, because if I think too hard about it and allow myself to, I could make myself very ill. (At this very beginning stage of my research, what do I KNOW to be able to give a keynote?) But there's no point to even putting a little toe into that stage, because this is obviously something I have to do, despite the fact that I am extremely underqualified. It could potentially be the most humiliating experience of my life, but there's no wiggling out of it--aside from leaving the country or making myself ill, and I can't do that. I've got to just rise to the challenge. (Cliches come in so handy at certain times.)

If I can do this, I can do just about anything. I'm not an extreme sport person (partly because it costs so much money--although I love rock climbing and would love to hang glide some day) but I think I understand something about why people do it: the rush of terror that becomes exhileration.

So, the thing now is to find somewhere where there will be electricity long enough to sit down and rehaul (and CUT down) a section from the paper I wrote for my Theories of Modernities class. Part of the reason I worked so long and hard on it was because I knew this conference was coming up--(not that I was a keynote). We've been averaging about two hours of NEPA a day, an hour and a half last night and about forty-five minutes sometime around 5am this morning--I woke up when the ac kicked in.

I also need to figure out how to harvest video clips from a vcd and put them into powerpoint....


Natalie said...


Remember Moses? He struggled with the same fear and look what God did for him. God uses the humble. I totally relate, believe it or not. I'm very gregarious but I DESPISE public speaking.

Again, it's cool to read about all these wonderful things you are doing.


Talatu-Carmen said...


Thanks! I think we're online at the same thing. The funny thing is that I'm not at all gregarious, but I don't mind public speaking. In fact, I kind of like it--as long as I know what I'm talking about. The terror-inducing thing here is the lable "keynote address," as well as the fact that I am just at the very beginning stages of my research, so everything I say could be completely wrong--and this is an audience that would know!{-;

Amma, Insha Allah, I'll be able to put something together. Allah zai taimake ni.