No place like home

HARARE - Zimbabwe’s worsening economic and political situation has over the years forced millions of skilled Zimbabweans to seek refuge in overseas countries. 

Most of them are economic refugees seeking greener pastures, with some being members of opposition political parties who fled political persecution.

Regardless of the circumstances that led them to turn their backs on their motherland, life out there isn’t the easiest as they all miss home, family and the warm weather. 

For others, just being reminded that they are foreign has not played out well while those living in neighbouring South Africa yearn for the relatively crime-free society that is Zimbabwe.

The Daily News of Sunday caught up with several professionals — journalists, poets, bankers — who are now living overseas so they share with us what it is they really miss from home.

Poet Barbra Breeze Anderson (Germany)
“What I miss from home is a sense of purpose, security and personal growth. In a country where there are so few free or available opportunities for young people to be educated and to be skilled, it is very difficult to continue day in and day out without a sense of direction. I cannot say completely that it is easy to live abroad but even though I haven’t begun to have a full career, I can at least live day to day and my problems are less about money but more about getting the right qualifications and becoming skilled enough to afford an even better life.”

Gender activist Barbra Mhangami (US)
“I miss being part of a supportive community, family and a sense of belonging. I miss the beautiful weather, fresh organic home grown food. I miss the mystical and magical experience of being grounded and rooted in Zimbabwe’s red soil. What I most like here is the stability of institutions of government regardless of who is president. I like that democracy, it works and despite its shortcomings people’s voices are heard through the ballot box. I like the freedom of expression, freedom of movement and freedom to live life according to one’s liking. I like not have to worry about the weather because I will have water or electricity from day to day. I am grateful for the relative peace and prosperity here. I am grateful for the opportunities my daughters have for the future.”

Banker Caroline Pommer (Germany)
“I am missing having easy contact and access to my family and friends. The type of entertainment like gochi gochi, the foods I grew up eating and speaking my languages. I miss the weather; we have more sunshine at home. What I like here is that the systems we have in place; health facilities are accessible for all, there is housing for all, there are education opportunities, reliable transport systems and availability of food. The systems that focus on people are in place. 
There are political systems that we can follow and understand, hence having the freedom of participating in the politics without any fear.”

Choreographer Clayton Ndlovu (Botswana)
“Well, for me just to be with family relatives and friends are an important thing during the festive season. But what I miss from home is umxanxa lenopi! Botswana is not far from home and I will be coming home soon. But what I like about Gabs is that people here are friendly and they know how to have fun. I have been invited to people’s homes to join them for various events such as weddings, birthday parties and lobola ceremonies and these events are nice. They make you feel at home.”

Broadcaster Tichaona Sibanda (UK)
“Even if you spend years living abroad, one or two things will always remind you of home. First it is the food, culture, family and friends. When you’re in the Diaspora these are the people we miss most. And then there is the hot weather. In the UK, particularly this festive season, the weather can be brutal with temperatures dropping to sub-zero. 
This is the time you wish you were basking under that blazing sun relaxing in Harare. Lastly, I also miss the beautiful natural scenery. Zimbabwe is endowed with a magical beauty. When you think of all these at times you become disconsolate.
“I’ve lived in a democracy for a very long time now, and one thing I appreciate is the free speech, freedom of expression and movement. You don’t have to worry about the repercussions that follow like in Zimbabwe when you criticise the political leaders. Here you can go on top of mountain and criticise Theresa May (UK Prime Mister) and rest assured they won’t be any visits to your home from the men in dark glasses.”

Journalist Peter Moyo (South Africa)
“I seriously miss the absence of violent crimes. When it comes to crime, citizens are under siege in South Africa — there are Hollywood movie types of crime happening on South African streets and in our homes on a daily basis. At least 20 000 people killed in crime related issues per year is no child’s play. 
In Zimbabwe whereas you can bribe a police officer for minor crimes like speeding, here the bribes can include violent crimes —more often you hear police having aided and abated a violent criminal or rapist, drug dealer or gang boss. You also never know when criminals will come knocking at your door because criminals here have no courtesy. 
In Zimbabwe they wouldn’t rob a house with occupants but here no one is off limits. In my community we pay an extra R200 per household to hire security to patrol our streets over and above burglar bars and also paying a security company monthly for an alarm system. 
So when you talk about home, yes I miss the peace of mind — I can walk the street, sleep peacefully, drive and not fear being hijacked or being caught in a crossfire of a cash-in-transit bullets exchange. 
As for what I like and why I remain in South Africa — opportunities. In South Africa, the country is really open for business — they go to all lengths to make sure you succeed, they don’t care who you are and which party card you are carrying. 
I still hold my Zimbabwean citizenship and when I go to government departments to apply for input support that’s not an issue. 
When I open my guest house the city and government wants to know how they can help. Zimbabwe is hostage to our liberation heroes. For example you can’t expect the growth of the economy when every other Zimbabwean is excluded from the system — check the fuel business — the same people running government are the same guys with fuel import licences or with runners with fuel import licences. 
Same guys running government are the same guys with gold buying licenses, same guys running government are the same guys with diamond mining licenses. 
Same guys running government are the same guys getting tenders to build roads and infrastructure. 
What happens when they fail to deliver? Who is the gatekeeper? Who gets punished if things go wrong? And how do you create opportunity for the masses of Zimbabwe and economic growth when you issue then take all opportunities for yourselves? Zimbabwean government is an extortionate one that makes life difficult for everyone so they can live lavish lifestyles."

Comments (2)

Hausati wambomutuka...chimbozama. Haurangwi feya feyaka ?...uchazviwona usisina basa mangwana woshaya kuti akakukuwana seyi?.. Ma professionals eku afirika , ko kungoti makayenda kuzodzidza ?.

Hwandi hwandi - 27 December 2018

Makayenda kunodzidza....nekuti haupindi basa unereku Africa...even eneremo , except few schools dzavanonyara. Ma journalists ayo hambofa akariwana basa...vane ma schools avo avanoda, ndosaka vachitambira ma 150K+...chero murungu anokwikwidza kana asingafite zvavanoda haapinde...kunyanya vasina mari kwavo.

Hwandi hwandi - 27 December 2018

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.