It’s amazing how life is made up of a series of short experiences that have the ability to change you . I’m on the coach to Victoria and I’ve had time to look back at the past few days, it’s safe to say this trip will not be forgotten in a hurry. Its not because I came to the UK (a place I was sure I would never set foot in for whatever reason – don’t ask, I can’t explain… Lol! ) but because of the people I’ve met during my time here. People who felt so familiar because even though we’d never met physically, we had connected mentally and socially. And why not? Afterall, no matter where we are, we are still Zimbabwean are we not? And the core of our heritage is what continues to bind us.
I was constantly reminded that despite the challenges at home or here, all we really want to be at the place we were as we were growing up – where my home was safely yours and vice versa, my children called you Aunty or uncle and you became family without sharing a bloodline, where I was my sister’s keeper and my brothers biggest cheerleader, even if this brother was mwana wa Mai Nhanha from 3 roads down and not my actual brother. I’ve also seen physical evidence that we (my generation) were raised well, we had it good! Take is anywhere you want, and you’ll see the quality breeding. No matter what field we’re thrown into we’ll pull our weight and more.
I have a new found, deeper than before respect for those out here making it work and pushing that genuine hustle, I know it hasn’t been easy. It broke my heart to hear people say they haven’t seen each other in over a year , but then I understood why. You are so spaced out and scattered everywhere! My shortest trip between houses has been 30 minutes, and these are those living close to each other, in the same town… But everyone else has ranged from an hr to 6, surely how do you manage this!? And even if you were up for it, with the hectic work schedules and life who is even keeping track of the time going by?
People here work, it’s no lie! But I cant help but wonder and worry about issues such as the simple matter of who’s taking care of YOU while you work and struggle to keep it together, to take care of family back home etc…. The dynamic back home is different really, as we hustle we still can manage to just pop in to quickly check on each other, but there’s nothing quick about a 30min drive. It’s one thing to say when I spoke to so and so on the phone they said they were fine. Anyone can use the words I’m fine while lying in bed ailing.
I’ve heard horrid stories if households operating as though you are merely living with a stranger you never see but they are your spouse because you both work so much, and it’s all just to manage bills! Marriages falling apart because relationships are built on the convenience of having someone around to split with rather than love. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing new and this happens at home too, but the scale here seems to be tipped more to situationships than actual marriages which is a bit worrying when we then look at the nature of the stories that get the media’s attention – domestic violence, abuse, cheating, murder, suicide, psychotic breakdowns…It’s all heresay for because I haven’t seen it with my own eyes, but there is no smoke without a fire, so again I’ll ask my brothers and sisters in the diaspora (everywhere) who is taking care of you out here?
Despite the frustrations I know we are all going through all I have witnessed here is love, from the people who saw me for 2 minutes to say hello and those who drove from their homes to come and spend time with me, to those who hosted me and showed me around… The reception is got was the most heartwarming thing I have ever experienced. There’s never been a day that I worried about where I would sleep or what I would eat because the various people around me where always taking care of me… And while house hopping I had to go round looking at the cost of things, the general cost of living. I have no idea who sold is the idea that people living in the diaspora live for free and just earn money to send back home, it’s a lie I tell you!! A lie that must be addressed, and allow me to do so now.
Dear Zimbabweans back home, these people out here cannot and should not be your cash cows. I see some of you sitting around not even trying to do anything with your lives because you have this relative or the other in the US, UK – where ever really – that you feel must fund your lifestyle because you think it’s easy for them. STOP IT!!! The cost of living here is not as cheap as we think it is, nevermind the Instagram posts that tell you half stories.
Most basic products are in about the same price range as those back home, not all clothing stores sell stuff cheap cheap, and even those that do probably match our prices too. Their bills definitely add up to more with this weather they have to live in, as things like constant heating are a necessity almost all year round unlike in Zim where its just for a few months and you even have option ye huni…! Getting your hair and nails done here is pricier than back home, public transportation costs more, the junk food costs the same and doesnt taste as nice….. So who told you that they have it better and you are entitled to their hard earned money just because you are tied by blood? Let’s stop ripping these people off and taking them for granted.
When someone sends money home asking you to help them build or start a business so they can come back, do that or don’t take their money at all!! Don’t use their money and lie to them, don’t betray that trust because that’s how you contribute to killing them. Imagine spending 10 saving up for a house back home so you can go back to something and you find yourself returning to nothing… It’s not fair. We know it happens, often enough for it to an actual problem. It’s these simple, seemly little, issues that cause such a divide among us at a time when we need to be united.
Zimbabweans in the diaspora I want to see you do well and stand proud. You work so hard you deserve it. Thank you for warming up to me and for every kindness you’ve shown me, may your territory be increased. I know you live your home and many of you long to return, I pray that wish be granted and you can come back to the Zimbabwe you know and love. But while you are out here how about we push agendas that actually matter? We can’t keep hopping onto every train to Senselessville that comes our way and turning the ridiculous things into viral content. I absolutely agree with comic relief, and Lord knows we need it more often than not, but could we also apply the same zeal and energy to issues to that push for a better nation? Can we have more discussions around how to grow as communities away from home than who is running around behind who’s back? Can we hear the success stories? I know there are plenty out here, and those are what we need to keep us going. Can we start to thrive more on positivity than on rants of anger and searches for relevance? Remember that regardless of it all, when you close that door and turn of those phones or laptops your social media network now affects who you are and who you are perceived to be not just by Zimbabweans but by other communities too. And while it may not matter much to you, they do judge is as a unit out there. They will treat us all how they believe we deserve to be treated based on the stereotypes we allow ourselves to push.
I could ramble on forever, but I will not. All I will do is say thank you to everyone who had a hand in this journey… My friends who have become family. I particularly would like to thank the Y2K team and management who made it possible to go through the processes of visa applications easy for me and brought me here to party. Belinda Magejo, Gamu Gore, Louis Charema, Takwana Tyaranini, I have no words for you guys. Your contributions to all those have left me forever in your debt. This journey started with a simple desire to share my experiences at events via Facebook live… Someone had the brilliant idea to start a campaign to get me here (I still can’t place why, but I am grateful), and now thanks to you all my mother has seen her first born after 15 years and my baby sisters (who are my babies anymore *bursts into tears*) have had a chance to sit down with their bug sister and try to catch up on 12 years of life apart.
I cannot believe that my time has the out do quickly, but chisingaperi chinoshura! Stay well Vana VeVhu and I’ll try to send some sunshine your way as soon as I get home …
#IAm #MalkiaWaSimba #LeoQueen