They say home is where the heart is. For a lot of us Zimbabweans, this is in the literal sense.
Though Zimbabwe holds our hearts, it is not always possible for us to be there. In a quest for a better life for ourselves and our families, Zimbabweans find themselves in the many different corners of the world. From to Geneva to Melbourne, Houston to Kuala Lumpur. All in search of a better life.
A lot of Zimbabwean natives have made the trek back home to rebuild a life for themselves and there is a lot of respect for those that are able to. We admire our brothers and sisters who have taken the leap of faith to do this and are thriving in their new mission. Those in the diaspora, however, are often caught between a rock and a hard place and there is sometimes a stigma associated with not being home. On the one hand, you are seen as being unpatriotic or cowardly for not sticking it out at home. On the other hand, you are seen as thinking of yourself as better than others by living in a first world country or any country with a more stable economy than Zimbabwe. I will say there are those who believe themselves better than other Zimbabweans because of the international labels they can afford to wear, their new-found accents and how some renounce their roots. This is where the stigma stems from and understandably so. But this is not the case for everyone.
Truth is, we are all trying to make things work. Zimbabweans are known for being resilient, hard working hustlers – always making a plan no matter the circumstances. I completely agree with this and have a lot of respect for my people and what they are doing for themselves in spite of the uncertainties of our home country.
It is never easy living in a foreign country. You are either pitied for not being able to live at home or resented for your ability to be in a foreign place and successfully make a life for yourself. You work hard at school to get a degree; work twice as hard as the average college graduate in order to get a job; and thrice as hard to keep a job given your foreign status. Nothing comes easy in your life. Not only are you trying to survive but most Zimbabweans in the diaspora support their families back home. So many families have been dispersed as a result – mother’s working several jobs in the US or UK to send their kids back home to school and take care of their parents, siblings, nieces and nephews; being separated from their husbands and children in order to make ends meet. I look at families here in South Africa where many families live in close proximity to one another and family gatherings are a weekly or monthly affair – I can’t help but be envious. It has become a privilege for me to see members of my family twice in a year so much so that it is unreal to me that families are able to see each other on a weekly basis.
In spite of all of this, we as Zimbabweans understand that we cannot live life dwelling on our misfortunes and brooding over how unfair life can be. We know we ought to be grateful that we are alive and get to see the world. We are grateful that our families can survive and that we can keep in constant touch with them thanks to WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook and all other technology. We are grateful for the incredible education system we were raised on that has made us the most literate nation in Africa. We are grateful that no matter the circumstances, we are able to make a plan and make things happen.
To our brothers and sisters back home, we salute and admire your tenacity and work ethic. We hope that one day we can all come together and build up our Zimbabwe to be the great nation that it is going to be. Understand that our hearts ache and long for home and (most of us) are really patriotic. We respect your hustle and just ask that you respect ours too.
As Blitz the Ambassador put it…