The African Mathematician & Writer


— By Kearoma from Botswana

My educational background is a little humorous but also very inspirational. My journey went from being an aspiring doctor to a writer and I’m currently completing my final year for a BSc in Applied Sciences with a double major in Mathematics and Statistics. Quite unexpected right? I also want to say I went to the school of life, but I don’t think I have garnered enough experience yet in that aspect to make that claim.

My fondest memory of my childhood is being four or five years old with a play set of medical doctor’s tools- stethoscope, plastic injection set and the like. I would put all my teddy bears and dolls on chairs and play hospital; this hospital of course had one doctor who did everything from bathing the patients to giving injections. I grew up knowing that I wanted a career in medicine, in fact I wanted a life around medicine.

Life of course doesn’t always work out the way we plan it, you could be planning to go live a life of solitude on an island and life will bless you with one in a busy city with a huge circle of friends. This of course didn’t happen to me, I still wish for a busy city life though. In my case life handed me Mathematics and Statistics.

Fast-forward two years later, I did not reapply for med school. In fact, the dream was slowly drifting away from my mind and I was trying to decide what I wanted to major in for my Applied Sciences course. I chose Mathematics and Statistics because the past two years had made me fall irrevocably in love with the two. I was excited and giddy at the prospect of trying something new and taking leaps towards my future.

What I am most thankful for is my family’s support. They never once questioned my decisions; they only just made sure I was certain this was the path I wanted to take. My mother of course was scolding me for wasting my writing talent in journals and books I allowed no one else to read. She was truly one of the people that urged me to share my writing with others. Her constant questions about why I was hiding my talent and her mention of the award I had received at 18 for best in English Literature for my high school leaving exams at the national level and a day of toying around with starting a blog led me to actually start my blog.

Writing has always been one of my main hobbies, I would write poems about teenage love affairs and mighty female characters. I guess the truth of the matter is that, in Botswana, the arts are not something we grew up knowing could feed someone. Maybe at the time it was because I wanted to be a doctor but it was also due to the fact that we grow up noticing how everyone is a nurse, a doctor, a teacher or a politician. Only first world countries had people who made careers from blogging or singing on YouTube.

I love writing and I love African literature even more. I love how African writers weave ordinary stories into gems that just make so much sense. I wrote a story that was on brittlepaper about a young woman who lost her father who had been a mathematician. My Ghanaian lecturer who is a Mathematics Professor well into his seventies came to class one day and shook my hand because he had read the story. I didn’t know where he came across it but the mere fact that he was congratulating me filled me with so much joy I cried in class.

My academic life is only at the beginning. There is so much I want to do, so much I want to write about and as my lecturer likes saying “so much to calculate and find derivatives of” because that’s what life is all about; living it to your best ability. I wouldn’t change anything even though sometimes when the theorems and formulas don’t come to my mind in a test I think I would be better of learning about verbs and stuff and studying English.

I have learned that life might not always turn out the way we want it to but it will always lead to somewhere better. I have learned that making plans is good but sometimes the unplanned life is also worth it. I also learned that Africans need to stop looking down on other careers; I could decide I want to spend my days singing and reciting folklores in Setswana at the mall for the rest of my life and people would call me a mad woman. There is a need to let young people do what they love. Its better being happy with what you are doing, that I believe is what makes one excel.


2 thoughts on “The African Mathematician & Writer

  1. Such an Inspiring piece. I felt connected to this because – damn it – I too wanted to be a medical doctor, but JAMB has not stopped jamming me, so I’m giving up for a less competitive course. I also like the ideology of letting people choose what they want to be but – as you have rightly mentioned – we tend to choose paths that would most likely, yield us a better future.

    Nice write-up though, I long to read your story.


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