Today, I really did not want to make a posting. I have, however, been prompted to make one in response to Cryton Chikoko’s comment on my previous posting in which I pointed out that I like submitting my conference papers right on the deadline day. I do this for two reasons, one minor, one major. I will not disclose the minor one because it is a personal secret. The major one has its roots in the way I grew up.

Some years back, when I was doing my Standard 8 for the second and final time at Mzokoto Primary School in Rumphi, Malawi, I used to have a very good English teacher and headmistress.Her name is Mrs Rose Edith Munyenyembe (Nyamasango). Besides her superb teaching skills, Mrs Munyenyembe used to be a good disciplinarian and mentor.

I rarely saw her whipping anyone.When you are wrong, she would spend sometime talking to you, making you understand that you are wrong, giving you advice and of course some punishment in form of manual work. By so doing, discipline was being instilled. While I appreciate the contribution of different mentors that I have come across in my life, I always hold Mrs Mnyenyembe in high esteem.Under her mentorship, not only did my academic life sparkle, I also developed immensely as a person.

One of the things that Mrs Munyenyembe used to teach us was that we should never relax in an exam. That is to say, when we finish before time, we must remain in the exam room, reading through our work again and again. She used to tell us that this will enable us to find some hidden mistakes and rectify them before leaving the exam room. We used to follow this piece of advice and it used to work for our own good.

When I went to Rumphi Secondary School, I continued following Mrs Munyenyembe’s advice and my results used to be excellent. However, when I was doing my first year in Engineering at the Polytechnic, the University of Malawi, I used to see lots of my friends leaving the exam room before time. For once, I tried to depart from Mrs Munyenyembe’s advice.The consequences were not good at all. As soon I stepped out of the room, I discovered that I made a number of simple mistakes, skipped some questions etc.

Although there were still some good thirty minutes left, University regulations prevented me from going back and asking the invigilator for my script in order to rectify my mistakes. As a result, I got a miserable grade. From then onwards, I resolved never to depart from the piece of advice downloaded into my head by Mrs Munyenyembe while I was at Mzokoto Primary School.

At this point someone may be asking-what has this to do with conference paper submission. The simple connection is that a conference paper undergoes several reviews after submission.These reviews are done by experts in the field. A paper is either accepted (passed) or rejected (failed) based on the comments of these experts. In a way, this is an examination.

In keeping with Mrs Mnyenyembe’s advice, I always like reading through my papers again and again if I finish them well before the deadline. This helps me to correct some hidden mistakes and also to fine tune my paper in order to make it more palatable for the reviewers.