Dreaming of nsenene… and it’s not pretty

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Ruspolia_nitidula – Edible Ugandan (nsenene) grass hopper

This preoccupation with nsenene is surely not healthy for me. Most of us have weird dreams once upon a time in our subconscious times of sleep. Some we put down to what we are troubled by or thinking about over the course of our supposedly conscious daily activities.  I  mean  how many of us can raise our hands to dreams of teeth falling out of mouth like corn or maize from a cob?

Well, I figured it best to write this intriguingly crazy dream I had last night before today’s events took over my mind.

Nsenene-after-thier-wings-and-legs-have-been-plucked-off-ready-to-be-fried

Nsenene after thier wings and legs have been plucked off. Ready to be seasoned and/or fried accordingly.

There was me visiting a couple and their kids who were friends of mine  in this dream.  I say this because in the real world I don’t even know these people!  They had adorable children – or at least I think they were adorable – see dreams can be so deceitful as when I try to recall, I can’t even remember what these kids looked like but I know in the dream they appeared to be. It started off congenial as one normally finds visits go, all of us sat around the lounge sharing titbits, husband moving off to busy himself with stuff away from us ladies and leaving me and the sister to yap about whatever seemed to gather interest. Then the sister left to go prepare something in the kitchen and I was left with the kids to entertain me.

fried nsenene

Fried nsenene

As I am playing with the kids, I spot some flying insects and I make a go at grabbing one. To my amazement I recognise these to be nsenene and shout out to the kids to help me collect them. They jovially join in the chase. After about what appears to be 10mins (dreamtime) I realise the nsenene are increasing in swam, there are starting to cover the whole lounge, so call out to the sister to come give us a hand. But the kids stop me doing this saying their mom’s clan is of nsenene and in any case, their dad brought back loads of it from his recent trip to Uganda which is in the freezer.

This is when my dream brain kicks in asking why in the hell then I’m I running around collecting these things in their lounge and where in the hell are they swarming from?

This is where the dream plays a nasty trick on me…and I wasn’t even watchin horror movies in the days prior or last night! No sooner has the question of where are they coming from than I start to feel something crawling up my legs. Looking down, I see its nsenene crawling out of my back passage!  This is so gross!! The kids are laughing at me and I’m embarrassed not to say the least!  As I’m looking around to make my escape the kids parents reappear to say dinner is about to be served and btw, they have some nsenene they would like me to have take away.  Now if I ever see nsenene again, it will be too soon. This was a nightmare to exorcise my obsession with these things!

Not forgetting about you

“I learned… that inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic, striving, but it comes to us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.”
— Brenda Ueland

Stress, fear, negativity, too much to do and doing things for others at the expense of our own needs — these all stifle our innate creativity. Relaxation, fun, meditation, and going after our dreams all get the creative juices flowing.

The above description fits most persons these days, especially those within the diaspora community I have crossed paths with that have yet to learn to take good care of themselves both physically and mentally.  That’s all they have truly.

On the whole most Africans in the diaspora in stressful situations strive to ensure that they save all they can, working sometimes 24/7 in all conditions, most, hostile simply because of the colour of their skin; just so they can amass set amounts to pay off debts back in their home countries, put kids to school, put in to business or build houses in the hope of having homes for when they return.  Dreams which turn out to be nothing more than pure hell on earth psychologically.

Without repeating the echoes of so many African diaspora before that have lamented on this, the very persons within their families they entrust such funds to are often the ones that betrayal them and will deny it if and when confronted to the point of even murder.  The relatives will blame each other or the government or just about anyone else, but themselves. It is pure and simple. You are forgotten to exist as a real person but are seen as a source of supply, much like the water from streams which not many bother to stop and question it’s source.  You just are. When you raise this issue you will most often be told candidly that you should have been wiser.

So I say to fellow persons: be kind to yourself, do not forget about you. Do not loose yourself in sacrificing all of you to appease or please everyone. This is an infinite task. Others will all be just fine with or without you when all is said and done. It is the way it always has been since time immemorial.

Question is: Can you be comfortable with yourself? Be creative – you will be pleasantly surprised.

 

Are we serious about addressing gender imbalance in accessing male dominated professions such as science?

earth-2 Science-and-Technology-Some-advantages-and-disadvantagesSo if we want to address gender imbalance in science and other professions in society, what supporting infrastructure is being laid?

Situations arise at every turn in our lives which unravel the mind to question or look at things in a different light.

Last week at work brought us new enthusiastic young people whose dream of stepping in to a world of academic science gave them hope to fulfill personal ambitions and dreams.  All these young persons from different walks of life, are female and in their last years in secondary education.  Their goal at this stage is to prepare for their Nuffield education award by undertaking work experience during their summer break from school.

The application process for these sponsorship or awards can be quite arduous on its own.  The next challenge is in obtaining work placements within academic institutions. This can vary and can often be disappointingly frustrating for the students and their would-be host supervisors. images (1)

indexMost academicians are quite willing and happy to take on school age budding scientific minds.  It is the conditions and requirements imposed by institutions in order to avoid any legal issues which may arise, for example such as inappropriate adult versus minor interaction, that prevent would-be supervisors from undertaking this.  The stipulations are often quite stringent: female supervisor to supervise female student(s), any meetings with female students where a male supervisor is leading, to be held in an open office or area. In an academic/laboratory setting, this is simply not as often feasible.  After all, students often are quite keen to work within the laboratories to put to experiment  ideas as opposed to soaking in theories from textbooks or journals.

Now I’m not being funny but anyone who has worked with “serious”/genuine science professors/academicians will back me up on the fact that these guys, (and mostly they are males), are for the greater time, only interested in what goes on in their Petri-dishes.  The highlight of their conversation peaks when discussing discoveries or results of what has been crossed with what and how long it may have been spun in the centrifuge etc…

photo_co_lab_lgI have been working on the academic side as their ‘office person’ for years – I still don’t know what the pretty images are in their submitted academic papers or what they mean by gene expression let alone hybridisation of mRNA!   They give new meaning to the term computer-widow.

Now we forget; a student that seeks work placement/experience at this late stage in their academic pursuits does so out of their keen volition: to cement their academic goals.  They actually want to be there to explore, and learn, as opposed to law requirement that they be.  It is not the same as attending school out of duty/fear, such that you turn up to school and take it out on the teachers or establishment in general, behaving like an absolute jerk at any opportune moment.

The other issue we forget is that not all females actually enjoy working with fellow females as their seniors.  Not everyone is from a culture where segregation of genders is the norm nor is it the case that all male species are just waiting to jump on any available female species they set eyes on. Believe it or not, some men are quite able to control themselves and are respectful to females.  This idea that all men are to be seen as sexual predators is proving to be quite damaging in many areas of society and commonsense really needs to come back to earth.

Further irony to these work-placements in scientific institutions that have such stringent criteria is that of claiming to address the gender imbalance in society in order to encourage females to pursue science or other currently male-dominated professions.  How in the hell is this going to be facilitated if the persons within these professions who are mostly male are not facilitated with supporting personnel to oversee supervision?   Are we to live in a future where segregation is the only mode of interaction for either gender?

Surely these stringent conditions albeit understandable but borne out of fear for legal issues, are more harmful to the ideology of voiced encouragement to address gender imbalance in professions such as science et al.

From experience dealing with young persons, I often find that seeking their take is far more conducive and productive to what we adults assume is correct.  Has anyone asked would-be-students, their take in all these measures  in order to obtain a workable solution that does not leave many young female budding scientists, loose out?