Me, My PhD and I

Hey rafikis,

It has been an absolute age, and I promise it was not my fault. When I revived this blog, the aim was to be serious and consistent. However within a couple of days of launching the blog, my laptop just crashed and having spoken to the Apple Support Team it needs a battery replacement so while I am sorting that problem out, I thought I would steal hubby's annoying French AZERTY keyboard laptop and just do the damn thing.

So much has happened while I was away, however the most remarkable thing is that we are now parents to a one-year old! Like where does the time go? Super blessed to have been chosen to carry her for nine months and introduce her to the world. Only God knows where we will go from here. Not only did she turn one, she also started full-time nursery since I am back to the 9 to 5 life - but honestly, she took it like a duck to water, all the nursery staff adore how friendly and bubbly she is, not even a tear drop as her dad and I waved her off. Did we give birth to an academic ..... well I guess we will have to wait and see!

But while we are on the topic of academics, perhaps it is time for me to address the elephant in the room - the PhD. Like wagwan with that fam? My brain just dey tire. Am Tayad. Fatigué. I don't even know who sent me, but I'm still here, a few months away from the finish line. Y'all I was not prepared for the mental battle ground. I literally disappeared from the face of the Earth. I stopped calling, I stopped hanging out, I just stopped everything that I used to do cold turkey GBAM! I probably even lost a few friends over the last four years but you know that's life not everyone must go through the fire with you. 

So what made me do it, you ask?

It was an opportunity that came to me at the right moment. This is not to say that I was 100% confident that this is what I wanted to do. Absolutely not! It took two years for my supervisor to get me to a place where I was willing to discuss the idea of doing doctoral studies. After my Masters, my dissertation supervisor asked me to stay on board and do a PhD under his wing. Let's call him Professor Ledge because he is a legend, if I'm still sane today it is 70% because of his support, encouragement and occasional home truths. Plus he likes jollof so basically he is family innit. But anyhooo, after the way my Masters dissected my brain, why would this man not let me collect my hard-earned Distinction and live my life in peace? I denied him more times than Peter denied Jesus! I was not here for the academic life fam, I wanted to start having money for Starbucks coffee every Tuesday morning. But my biggest barrier was my fear of failure, I felt like he was seeing a part of me that did not exist. Surely he has had better students so why bother with my little self? Just the idea of going for it and then disappointing him made me stall for two whole years. It was a tough decision.

So what is my research about? 

This blog is not about the PhD so I will not go into too many details but in short, I am re-evaluating the view that child labour in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is a Worst Forms of Child Labour. My fieldwork took place in Western Ghana where I spent a total of five months. My take on the child labour debate is that it is contextual and influenced by several factors including (but not limited to) culture, household finances, parental education etc etc. Policy discourse sort of tends to treat child labour as evil, some literature even downright compares it to slavery (don't get me started on this) but you know once you have visited the places where these children work (in my case gold mines) you kind of have to change your perspective. I also challenge the view that child labour is bad because it interferes with schooling and therefore doesn't allow children to reach their full potential. 

Angelique Gatsinzi, 2015 ©

Guys you should visit a state school in any remote part of sub-Saharan Africa and tell me whether a child who attends the school full-time will reach any potential. Teachers don't want to be sent to those ends of the world, they don't get paid on time, sometimes not at all, a lot of them work part-time and don't bother turning up for weeks on end. Local governments are too broke to put petrol in a car to send school inspectors for visits so people carry on how they like. Children get seriously whooped for little things like not doing homework, wearing a ripped uniform, not wearing shoes to school  (a lot of the times it actually cannot be helped) ... imagine living a life of struggle and you turn up to school only for them to add to your struggle ... I would drop out and all. And that's my problem with countries who believe they are the blueprint for development; when something works for them they want to come and do CTRL+P. They practically strong armed African countries into privatising the education sector through those structural adjustment programs and now that children are working to help pay for the damn fees and uniforms people are busy doing conference and campaign. Everyone must go to school! Okay fine! Why aren't you opening mouth for the educated and jobless youth turning to cyber crime & prostitution for survival? Overzealous baboons!

I mean the moral of this story is that we can't always know what the future has in store for us. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and pray to God for guidance. I was watching one of Patricia Bright's vlogs a few hours ago and she said something that resonated with me pretty intensely. I think she was responding to a subscriber who was being held back from achieving personal goals by the fear of failure. Her response was that failure is inevitable, we will all fail at something at some point in our lives, but it is better to just fail now and get over it than wait around to gather the courage to fail, or ponder on the opportunities you missed because you did not want to fail. Looking back now, when I enrolled into a PhD programme it was not because I had some sort of plan or career path I had mapped out. I just told myself, an opportunity has come, let me take it, if it does not work out for me then at least I tried.

And guys, it has been one hell of an experience but I will definitely come out a stronger woman.

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