2013 was my year of suffering. It was the year I turned 33 and I spent that year crying every other day. Midway through the year, someone revealed to me that 33 is indeed the year of suffering because it’s the age at which Christ died. I don’t know how true that is for everyone, but it was true in my case.

The year before, I had won a scholarship that allowed me to study at University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. I had searched for a PhD scholarship since 2010 and I was elated when I finally got one in 2012. To prove my joy, I had four go-away parties in Kenya just to let all my family and friends know I had won a prestigious scholarship. I skipped off to South Africa fully convinced that I was going to have the time of my life.

By the end of 2012, I was depressed: I missed my home in Kenya, I didn’t know what my PhD was about and the University of Stellenbosch was full of white people I couldn’t relate to. I became acutely conscious of my black skin and I thought everyone else in my research programme was cleverer than me. This was the preamble to my 2013-year-of-suffering.

Of course you now expect me to explain in minute detail about black consciousness, Apartheid, PhD woes and that kind of stuff. But I wont. Its not that important anymore. See, in 2014, I decided not to be so conscious about my skin colour. I didn’t choose to be black so I didn’t see any reason why I should be conscious or defensive about it. I also decided to just work as hard as I could on my PhD and take advantage of all the opportunities availed to me. It didn’t matter how clever everyone else was, I just had to be as clever as I can be.

I decided to simply be me and that is when I started to enjoy Stellenbosch. That is when I discovered that Stellenbosch is a beautiful town with beautiful people, whom I would love to write about some day. For now, I see it as the town where I made peace with myself. I don’t have to carry the world on my shoulders after all. I am just a simple girl from Kenya.

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