Dear readers, join me for a cup of tea.
After yet another long hiatus, today I return to share the reasons behind the pause and the reflections that have arisen from it.
In December, I went home to Tanzania for the first time in a very long time; weeks had somehow became months and, before I knew it, it had been six years since I had been to my motherland. Before my trip, I’d been struggling with writing — especially in Swahili, which I attributed to the fact that I simply hadn’t been surround it by it in so long. And indeed when I was home I felt my ease with the language return to me, but still that wasn’t enough to restore my writing vim. I’ve spent the months since returning to the U.S. turning this issue over in my mind until I realised that the obstacle was twofold: I haven’t been on an interpreting assignment in almost a year (thanks to my current job) and my healthcare interests have shifted! Content creation is difficult; content creation in two languages, even more so. It is also difficult to write about something you’re no longer actively engaged in, or primarily interested in. When I started this blog, it was with the intention of sharing the insight I was gleaning from my work as a medical interpreter; since transitioning to a new job last year, I often go weeks without speaking any Swahili — save for a few words exchanged with the afternoon shift security guard in my building, who happens to hail from the D. R. Congo. My current work is with young women with breast cancer, an area my professional interests are setting root in. See why it’s been hard for me to keep writing in the same thread that I started a year ago? 🙂
I had vowed to keep this blog in two languages, yet that rule has come to prove more of an obstacle than a motivation. To keep moving forward one needs to not be rigid and instead recognise when one is confining oneself; I set this intention, and so I am free to adjust it. I struggled with deciding to depart from bilingual writing, for fear that it would exclude the very population I had designed this blog for, but there are other ways around this — such as adding a translator button, which I’m figuring out how to do. Its output won’t be perfect, but if it’ll help me break free of the dread of translating my posts then so be it. (Plus, my content would then be accessible in many other languages as well — definitely a bonus.) I will do my best to write every piece in both English and Swahili, but going forward will be flexible about this as needed so please forgive me for the times when I won’t. I will also be putting The Story Project aside, for now; I started that tangentially to my writing, borne of a desire to better the Swahili language sexual health resources that exist online. (Here‘s the story behind this). It has been difficult, however, to get people to be forthcoming about such personal experiences; moreover, my own interests have shifted and settled more in the realm of cancer, though I think sexual/reproductive health education is still a noble pursuit. I won’t remove the few stories that are up, in case someone come across them and find them informative.
I admit that this was almost a farewell post: I was tempted to give up on the bilingual aspect and even on the whole blog altogether…but let me persevere for a while longer. While I haven’t been the most consistent at posting, putting myself out there online has been a fascinating experience. Thus far I’ve had over 700 unique readers — whaaat?! — some in countries where I don’t even know anybody! I’m so grateful to you all for finding my writing interesting enough to devote your time to visiting my site. Please keep coming back; I might be spotty, but I’m here. Thank you all very much.
Karibuni chai, wasomaji wapendwa.
Baada ya kutoweka tena, leo ninarudi kuwaeleza sababu na pia tafakari yangu juu ya hili pumziko refu.
Mwezi wa kumi na mbili nilienda nyumbani Tanzania kwa mara ya kwanza baada ya muda mrefu mno; siku zilinikimbia, mara ikawa miaka sita tangu niende. Kabla ya safari, nilikuwa nikishindwa kuandika — hasa kwa Kiswahili, ugumu niliohisi ulichimbuka kwenye kutokuzungukwa na lugha kitambo. Na kweli nilipokuwa nyumbani nilihisi wepesi ukirudi, lakini bado sikupata motisha tosha ya kuanza tena kuandika. Kwenye miezi tangu nirejee Marekani, nimekuwa nikiliwazia hili suala hadi kutambua kwamba ni tatizo lenye sehemu mbili: sijafanya kazi ya ukalimani kwa karibia mwaka sasa (kwa sababu ya kazi yangu mpya) na pia fani ya afya niliyokuwa nikivutiwa nayo imebadilika! Kutunga mada ni vigumu; kutunga mada katika lugha mbili ni vigumu zaidi. Pia ni vigumu kuandika kuhusu shughuli ambayo huhusiki nayo tena kama awali, au huna mvuto nayo tena. Nilipoanzisha hii tovuti, ilikuwa kwa nia ya kuandika kuhusu tafakari nilizokuwa nikipata kwenye kazi yangu kama mkalimani wa kiafya; tangu nianze kazi mpya mwaka jana, ninaweza kumaliza wiki kadhaa bila kuongea Kiswahili — labda maneno machache hapa na pale na mlinzi kazini kwangu ambaye anatokea Demokrasia ya Kongo. Hivi sasa ninafanya kazi na wanawake vijana wenye saratani ya titi, fani ambamo ninanuia kujitosa zaidi. Unaona ni kwanini imeniwia vigumu kuendelea na maudhui niliyoanza nayo mwaka mmoja uliopita? 🙂
Niliahidi kuwa hili tovuti lingekuwa katika lugha mbili, lakini hiyo ahadi imegeuka kikwazo badala ya msukumo. Ili kuendelea kusonga mbele maishani, yatupasa tusiwe wagumu na bali tutambue pale ambapo tunajiwekea vizuizi; hii nia nilijiwekea mwenyewe, na basi niko huru pia kuibadili mwenyewe. Nilisumbuka na uamuzi wa kuacha kuandika katika lugha mbili, kwa kuhofia kwamba ingewatenga wale ambao nilitaka wafaidike kutokana na hili tovuti, lakini kuna njia nyingine — kama kitufe cha kutafsiria, ambacha ninatafuta namna ya kuwawekea. Haitakuwa sahihi kabisa, lakini kama itanisaidia kuepuka uzito wa kutafsiri maandishi yangu basi na iwe. (Pia kwa kuweka hicho kitufe wengine wanaotumia lugha tofauti nao watapata kufaidi.) Nitajitahidi kuendelea kuandika kila fungu katika Kiswahili na Kiingereza kadri niwezavyo, lakini ninaombeni mnisamehe pale nishindwapo. Kwa sasa pia nitaupumzisha Mradi wa Simulizi; niliuanzisha pembeni kama jitihada ya kuongeza rasilimali za Kiswahili za afya ya uzazi zipatikanazo mtandaoni. (Soma hapa kuhusu kilichonihamasisha nifanye hivi). Lakini imekuwa vigumu kuwapata watu kufunguka kuhusua masuala nyeti kama hayo na zaidi, nimeanza kuelekea zaidi kwenye fani ya saratani ingawa bado ninadhani afya ya uzazi ni muhimu mno. Sitafuta simulizi zilizopo, labda kuna atakayejifunza chochote kutokana nazo.
Ninakiri kuwa nusura niwaage moja kwa moja: nilinuia kuachana na lengo la kuandika kwa lugha mbili, au hata kuachana na blogu kabisa…lakini hebu ngoja nikazane kwa muda. Ingawa huwa siweki mafungu mapya mara kwa mara, kujiweka mtandano namna hii imenifungua macho. Hadi sasa nimekuwa na wasomaji zaidi ya 700 — duuu! — wengine wakitokea nchi ambazo hata simfahamu mtu yeyote! Ninawashukuru mno kwa kupenda maandishi yangu hadi kutumia muda wenu kutembelea tovuti yangu. Tafadhali endeleeni kuja; huwa ninatoweka hapa na pale, lakini nipo. Asanteni sana.