Oberlin Blogs


December 13, 2011

Simbarashe Runyowa ’15

Today marked the last day of classes for the fall semester, a fact I don't at all believe and for which I have launched an investigation. I've escalated the matter to the calendar gods who have not been forthcoming with a concrete response, choosing instead to refer me to the 2011 annual calendar. I will report back as soon as they assure me that the earth did indeed speed up by mistake and that they're working on it and that we're actually still in September. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

On a more serious note, final exams are upon us here at Oberlin College, which means I have acquired a fresh contingent of acquaintances. They are called Memorization and More Memorization, and, to use an American expression, we've gotten super-duper close lately. This week, I am confronted with mountainous heaps of information that needs to be translocated from all those thick textbooks and readings to my skull, and then organized for easy retrieval in about 72 hours.

This is not a metaphor for what is to come .Things Fall Apart is a required text for my African Politics class.

Naturally, this whole episode is a source of panic and delirium for me, seeing as this is my first encounter with the ultimate academic slap across the face known in more civil terms as finals. I am furiously ripping through yellowing problem sets and dog eared readings in a frenzied effort to juggle my memory back to all those lectures I had throughout the semester, and I have simply managed to make myself nervous by asking myself questions which I am not (yet) able to answer. When did Malcolm X split from the Nation of Islam again? How did that theta disappear from this triple integral? Is this vector field conservative? And beer's Law--what's that curly E for again? And what about the World Bank--what factors did they identify for the economic crises in Africa in the 1980s, and what was the response given by the African leaders in the Lagos plan of action?

All these and a bucketful more are actual questions that are buzzing in my head like a swarm of locusts, and all of them need to be answered by way of me reading about them again. And probably again. In the midst of all this, I have chosen to remain calm and at peace, and to take my mind off the books when I can. Tomorrow, the Obertones will be performing a concert in Fairchild Chapel which I am going to. We'll sing a bit of Backstreet Boys and a bit of Toto and hopefully get some respite, however momentary, from the pressure of final exams.

And we will survive this. Scarred, but alive.

Responses to this Entry

Haha... I feel much the same, Simba! Also, the concert will be a welcome study break XD

Posted by: Chelsea on December 13, 2011 7:27 PM

Nice post. I also find myself wondering where the semester went. How is it December already!?

Posted by: Nora on December 13, 2011 10:08 PM

I just read Things Fall Apart! How are you liking it?

Posted by: Ida on December 14, 2011 9:57 AM

I love Things Fall Apart! I enjoy the complexity in it's simplicity: On one level it is the story of Okonkwo,the protagonist who allows himself to be consumed by his own skewed ideas of manliness which eventually drive him to his own ruin. On another level,it is a political statement about pre-colonial Africa, and Achebe's attempt to show that Africa before colonisation was a sophisticated and cohesive society, contrary to the portrayals of savagery portrayed in books such as Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

At the same time, Achebe remains careful not to romanticize anything, and also shows the reader the less desirable aspects of Ibo society,like the throwing away of twins in the Evil Forest,which gives the book balance and objectivity.

Okay, that was long!

Posted by: Simba on December 14, 2011 10:40 AM

Word! You should also read No Longer at Ease and Anthills of the Savannah, if you get the chance. They do the same thing, except the former follows Okonkwo's grandson (if I remember correctly) and the latter is set not too long ago. It's super interesting to track the changes Achebe portrays in the culture and government, especially when you compare it to the growth of other nations.

Really, what stood out to me about his style is 1. that he has a way of not sugarcoating things without going over the top and sounding alarmist, and 2. his ability to show the culturally idiosyncratic ways in which his characters think. Those are things I am perpetually interested in.

Posted by: Ida on December 15, 2011 6:05 PM

you provide more than enough affirmation as to why I am applying to Oberlin! Loving your blogs, Simba. Can't wait for the next one!! #hopeful Obby '16

Posted by: Jackie Nyamutumbu on January 10, 2012 7:22 AM

Hope your finals went well. Now that you've survived, you'll know what to expect and how to plan next go round. As an aside, Things Fall Apart is one of my favorite books. Achebe brings the reader into his homeland and one gets a real sense of the traditions, language, and overall way of life ... and the impact of the "Christian" missionaries in his and other African countries. One can see the transformation of his main character. Makes me want to read it again.

Posted by: Marsha on January 27, 2012 4:18 PM

I agree with the rest of the comments - a wonderful book! I hope your exams went well and you are ready for the next semester.

Posted by: Leaven of the Pharisees on October 18, 2012 10:37 AM

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