Been a while huh…yeah, I had to take a break from the election hoopla and breathe for a while. Events transpired the way I knew they would, Morgan and crew would be reduced to nothing but empty and noisy vessels. Sad but ey, we all saw it coming. But this post is not about any of that though; this post is about a trend that I noticed over a lot of news sites, especially Zimbabwean related. A lot of residents of Zimbabwe seem to have a bone to pick with the Zimbabwean population that migrated to overseas destinations like, USA, Canada, UK, Australia and other places. They feel like we ‘ran away’ from the problems in the country and did not ‘stay’ and fix them. Well, this here is for you and I hope somewhere deep down you understand.
As a man grows and leaves his house, he is told that he has to take care of his family no matter what. As we grew up, it was normal for the man of the house to leave his residence in the rural areas and go to the big city and work as a teacher or mechanic and raise money to take care of his family. At the end of the month, he would catch the chicken bus to his rural home, laden with grocery bags full of Sun Jam, Buttercup margarine and chocolates for the kids. The reason why the man left his home was because there were no opportunities in the rural areas for the man to completely provide for his family. So he had to leave. And it was okay, people understood and waited for the POSB deposits.
Fast forward to the past couple of years, we have seen a mass exodus of citizens leaving the country for foreign destinations and truth be told, it has been mainly for the same reasons. The country of Zimbabwe has undergone so many changes that have resulted in severe job losses for a lot of people. There are others who may say jobs were there but let me give you a snippet of my story. The farm invasions that occurred in 2004 were good for a lot of people but very bad for a MAJORITY of the people, me being one of them. I was happily employed at Kondozi Farm in Odzi, a succesful commercial farm that employed over 6000 people and made millions of dollars each year from horticultural exports. In my late teens I was an executive assistant and making so much money that I was on track to buying my first home within the first year of my employment.
April 2004, Easter weekend, the company bus dropped me off at my residence and I prepared to enjoy the long weekend with my family, with a packed fridge and freezer and the corner bar chock full of liquor; life was good. Monday night as I laid my outfit out for the next working day, I got a frantic call from my boss warning me, “do not go to work tomorrow, the farm is gone”. He could not prolong the conversation but he made it very clear, war veterans had taken over and our jobs were probably gone. The next few days were filled with confusion as we were trying to figure out if we could still keep out jobs regardless of the change of ownership but as the days went by, it was apparent, all 6000 plus employees of Kondozi Farm were out of a job. Now what?
A few weeks later, after collecting my final pay cheque, I was back on the job hunt and after all my honest attempts, I landed a job at Bakers Inn as a cashier. Lol! The hit on my wallet was tremendous; I went from planning a home purchase just a few months prior, to just barely making it. But this is just my story, most had it worser than me. Most had a lot of mouths to feed, school fees to pay, medical bills etc, and when the opportunity to go abroad came, there was no other choice but to go. I know, there are some people who wanted to leave anyway, hell, it is a free country, however, for some, there was no choice.
There is no one who will opt to leave his big house in the suburbs, maid, gardener, pool (maybe) and a few vehicles, to come and settle in this part of the world and despite what some Zimbabwean residents think, here is why. For starters, it is cold as all hell out here, temperatures dip below -30 degrees for half the year; we were raised in Africa and no one here can handle the harsh winters here, we miss the weather back home and each and everyone of us sheds a tear in the winter time at least once. None of y’all Zimbaz back home really know the pain of frostbite, or have had to face the difficult decision of having to buy warm gloves or send money back home for sekuru’s cataract treatment. A lot of starters cannot buy a decent car, the most they can get would be a dingy half-broken 99′ Honda Accord with an engine that over-heats every 5 miles and back doors that do not open. Oh, and that oil leak. The accommodation is not great either; closets in Zimbabwe are bigger than the bedrooms here. Two rooms in a regular home in Africa equal a complete apartment in these countries. They are tiny and its 200 of them stacked in one big building, a million neighbours and cranky landlord to deal with. Let’s not mention roaches and leaky faucets that never get fixed. Did I mention we have NO maids here; yes, that means after a 14 hour work day, we still have to come back and do dishes, laundry and clean the house.
The jobs you think we like so much, shit, most time we ain’t nothing but a number. Part of a staff of 2000 other immigrants, working menial jobs on the factory line assembling car parts, affixing lids on dish soap, applying labels on tomato cans. If you are lucky, you are answering phones in a call center, however no time to breathe and expected to speak to a minimum of 60 people a day and targeted to sell 20 products that no one wants. If you cannot make the sales, you are fired. Either that happens or you are laid off; that means the company tells you they are shutting down and moving their business to Mexico or China, and just like that, poof, everyone is gone. No heads up, nothing; you come in the morning making plans for next week’s paycheck and in an hour, you are jobless. No one cares how hard you worked for the prior three years, goodbye champ. Been there done that. Do you not think we miss our jobs back home where we could not show up for two days due to a hangover and still have our jobs safe after it all? Do you not think we miss our jobs were we could take copy paper to our home for our kid’s projects without getting reprimanded for it?
It is extremely difficult of us having to deal with this lifestyle daily but we have to boot up and go out because we have dependents in Zimbabwe; grannies, siblings, children, parents who depend on us for their day-to-day living. These same people cannot get jobs at all, they cannot even make hustler money and we have no choice but to help them. They tell us, if it was not for us, they would be struggling and probably on the streets. They tell us not to come home because even THEY cannot make ends meet and it is better that there is at least one person who can send money from abroad. So tell me, if my family is depending on me so much, why would I leave this place? Would that not be assigning hardships on everyone?
Zimbabweans in Zimbabwe; life is not easy for anyone who is here. It’s a dog-eat-dog world and each day is a struggle just to stay alive. It is not just about us making it, it is having to provide for family back home. We appreciate the chance to be here because it allows us to take care of our loved ones, however it is not easy. It is hard, we work two jobs just to balance the books, work jobs we hate just to afford YOU a university tuition. Damnit, for us to go to university, we have to deal with the realities of a $100 000 debt after graduation, you don’t because all your costs would have been covered by, guess who? Us. Instead of coming down at us and thinking we are having the time of our lives here, show some damn appreciation because guess what, most of the money we are making is being sent to Zim anyway. You tell us we need to come back and invest in the country, every month we are sending at least a thousand US bucks to Zim, is that not a monetary injection into the economy? What are YOU doing with my money? If I come back there, where will that revenue come from? Am I not investing as it is, despite my absence?
We will not come back to the country when in this very moment, you are telling us, you cannot get jobs. What use would we be if we come back and we all cannot get jobs? We will not come back when we cannot even have our votes respected *cough unfair elections cough*. We will not comeback until you have some sort of decent living, if you cannot make it there right now, how will the situation improve with 3 million more people added to that mix? We are not out of here because we like it (most of us anyway), but like that man who had to leave his rural home to feed his family, we have to be here…you get all excited when we visit back home with 15 suitcases and you are gifted with iPads, laptopns, shoes and clothing, but please, keep in mind how hard it was to obtain those goods for you, that one trip alone takes us a year to save up for, it takes 6 months of dining on Ramen noodles and skipping out on the phone and cable bills just to be back home for two weeks. These are goods you would not even have had we not been here so please, before you accuse us of ‘running away’ and being ‘sellouts‘, really thing of how much revenue the country is gaining, tuitions being paid and opportunities being created by the mere fact that we are here.
Off to my second shift…my grandma needs BP tablets…just sayin….