L.I.S.A.: What has your experience at Stellenbosch been like? Have there been any differences to the University of Nairobi and possibly other institutions you have previously attended?
Maureen Amimo: My experience at Stellenbosch has been amazing and strange. The difference in culture and way of life was miles apart. It was something that I had to learn to accept. The reality of South Africa and its Apartheid past is something else that - though I had encountered in literary texts and history classes in school - was still beyond my understanding. Stellenbosch, and South Africa by extension, opened my eyes to a different look at the concept of race and politics. Now, I can engage with race differently, from a point of awareness and not just detached reading.
The Stellenbosch space is a vibrant space of open engagement that has allowed me to grow and bridge my introversion a little bit.
There are differences between Stellenbosch University and the other institutions of higher learning that I have been through. I still feel that for each of the universities I have attended, there is something unique about them. My undergrad alma mater, Moi University, has a lot of similarities with Stellenbosch as it is set in a university town just like Stellenbosch. The enclosed university life in both spaces is an everyday, every-time encounter that keeps one always thinking in academic terms (if it is possible). The calm of the environment is also conducive for learning. Moi University was unique in that it grounded me in literature by opening options for a variety of courses and mentors. The open options are responsible for my decision to pursue literature.
The University of Nairobi, where I did my MA, on the other hand, provides a different space as it is in the capital city in Kenya. Coming from a university town, to a university in a city was difficult. However, the space had its own vibrancy in the sense that the city-space was alive with artistic performances and events all year round. This provided a practical engagement with the arts for me. The constant debates with writers and lecturers in the field at the university also extended by engagement with literature.
Stellenbosch University on the other hand has unique opportunities for engaging with critics, writers and peers in academia. This boosts my confidence in the field. The well-stocked library and e-sources is also a plus for any postgrad.