I started my day today researching the topic of academic illegal immigrants in South Africa and it seems that our country has very stringent immigration laws. It had me wondering that if my subjects were illegal immigrants would that affect the validity of my research. I was bearing in mind that while academics may have the right qualifications for scarce skills in South Africa, their illegal entry into this country may not allow them to cease the available opportunities. My mentor, Kenichi Serino, provided some perspective on this apprehension and said that my subjects being illegal immigrants may make my research even better.
I waited for the logic. Essentially, these people had jobs that gave them prestige in their home countries, and now they are in a country where they are living in the shadows. I saw the light in this. I had my first interview with Luke Mabiala, a man with multiple qualifications from Congo. He was the deepest and realest lesson in humility I have experienced in this year of Journalism. I have never felt like I connected with someone’s soul in an interview this whole year until today. Maybe it’s the kind of stories I had been doing that had me questioning whether I was even a real journalist. There was a lot redeeming about that interview. He managed to escape the civil war in Congo and the painful turmoil of the country he so evidently loves. He is in South Africa now and even though his life is far from the promise education was meant to ensure him, he is grateful and happy and he sees the virtue in life bringing him to where he is today.
There was too much wisdom in Mabiala all condensed in a small man who has seen a lot and impressively done a lot in his life. I wish to capture, in my transcription of the interview with him, his soul and optimism and history as authentically as with the kindness he told it to me. Day 2 was very good, but my feet and the rest of my body felt it.