Close your eyes for one moment. Imagine you were the cameraman when your mother pushed you out her bloody womb. Imagine the celebration that ensued. Imagine the first picture taken of your immaculate and miniature figure.
Think of Ambuya (Grandmother). Think of Sekuru (Grandfather). Think of proud Baba (Father) and relieved Amai (Mother), joyful Tete (Aunt), and the excitement of Babamukuru (Uncle). The seed planted, now fruitful and the envy of imagination.
It became a reality.
Think of the pain and profuse spillage of Amai’s blood when you were born. It was comparable to an armed struggle for her – wasn’t it? You can open your eyes now.
April 18, 1980. This is the day Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. The House of Stone. The Mighty Warriors. The Cheetahs. The Sables. The descendants of the Monomutapa Dynasty.
She was a beautiful little girl. Well, actually is she? No. She’s actually a grown woman now, but let me reflect.
I met her for the first time when she was in the first grade. She was growing, brimming and bubbling potential. She introduced me to her siblings and cousins, one called ANC another called ZAPU. She told me about the struggle to free her from captivity after a violent kidnapping by some British pirates.
She told me about family squabbles from her past, but I was too young to understand what it was about. Traumatic I thought – but I continued on my way through life and perhaps take the time to get to know her.
She told me about the valiant warriors and veterans who lost their lives trying to free her from mental and physical captivity. When she was rescued and relieved from her suffering, she was told her name would change, and that’s how she got to be called Zimbabwe.
She informed me Uncle Marley came to Rufaro Stadium and sang her a birthday song in the Mbare ghetto. As the rest of the world watched, she said this was one of the most memorable days of her life. I asked to listen to the song Uncle Marley played and how amazing it was:
She got to be known all over the world. Honored by Kings and Queens and she recalled a cosy, yet deceptive relationship with her former adopted family in the Commonwealth.
She was brimming with confidence, about to turn 20 when some troubles started rumbling. Her past was haunting her but she couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was. This would continue until she was diagnosed.
Suddenly, our family had to leave our sister and so did four million others. No one told me exactly why she wasn’t well, but I heard at the time it had to do with her past. I felt sad, but life had to keep moving on.
Zimbabweans are at the forefront of some of the most profitable entities in the western world. The country can alarmingly be self sufficient, but unfortunately meanders as a complicated and polarized vessel it is on the world stage today.
Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Hollywood and The London Stock Exchange and even Goldman Sachs are entities full of bright and talented Zimbabweans who would love to contribute to their homeland directly. Over the last twenty years, Zimbabwe has been subjected to insurmountable brain drain, a decay of moral and cultural consciousness and a public image the world will not allow to be celebrated.
With ever increasing human rights concerns, the political divide depending on where your bread is buttered is apparent in the social media streets and boulevards. Politicians vying for support or campaigning for disdain of their competitors. Disunity being the order of the day, the environment appears black and white from the outside looking in but nothing really is, is it?
I received a call from her and she shared some sad news.
She told me she was tired.
She mentioned she was scared. She wanted to rise. She was afraid to mention that someone stole her savings and gave it to uncles involved in her rescue.
She told me her friends are unheard and unwell. She told me her water is not clean.
She told me she has a hard time finding a job.
Jobs are missing. A drought descended and caused her fields to be barren, but some friends sparked a wild fire now it is spreading at home and abroad.
She told me her uncles had split up into different political factions. She told me her insomnia keeps her up at night. Sometimes she can pay her school fees and sometimes she can’t. I asked if there was a way I could help and she said, never give up the fight.
She told me she’s a grown woman now they are still fighting to remove her blouse. She told me sometimes she doesn’t want to live anymore. She told me no one knows where her diamond earrings went. She mentioned some are accountable, but it depends on the assigned accountant performing the debits and credits.
She told me her womb may no longer give birth, spoiled by the stench of her past. She said someone is stepping on her stomach, strangling her potential, her creativity and her dreams. There’s blood on her blouse. She is in pain and she is disdained. The piercing insanity of her cry saddened me and all I heard next was a loud thud and the phone hung up.
All I could do was cry and pray for her, because I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t have the solutions, but could only hope for those abusing her innocence to stop.
As a product of the loss and brain drain of Zimbabwe, I am haunted by the inequity on the Zimbabwean experience. I was fortunate to leave because Baba had to leave. Over the last fourteen years I have had to gallop across foreign lands in England and America hoping to return one day to our beloved sister, Zimbabwe.
Now, I have to negotiate going back to my own place of birth because of the fear of the unknown. That is ludicrous, but the reality of many Zimbabweans in the diaspora. I’d speculate few Zimbabwean-born men or women in America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, UAE or the United Kingdom want to permanently stay there by choice.
Zimbabweans accept living in foreign lands but sadly, because of circumstances out of their control. Heartbreaking to the point of seeking medication for insomnia, anxiety and malaise.
It’s sad that many Zimbabweans in this very moment want to leave their place of birth. I actually once imagined a utopia of all my friends going to the University of Zimbabwe, but sadly this never materialized. Now we’re scattered all over the globe watching home from an iPhone.
Sobering and melancholic. It’s depressing. It’s missing family events, funerals, graduations and momentous celebrations. The homesickness that never quite heals. The corruption in the papers. The greed in some of the deals.
A free and fair Zimbabwe where all Zimbabweans can simply enjoy their lives and take care of their kids for centuries to come is my deepest hope.
For those of us in the diaspora, this is why you can’t ignore what is going on back home. It’s not all about the politics. It’s not about Ian Smith, ZANU PF or MDC.
It’s about those entrusted with rescuing and raising our daughter, yet now she’s been raped multiple times, by those at home or abroad, those from her past and her present. It’s staining her blouse.
We’ve mourned enough. She’s forty years old now. She’s still the salt of the earth. She needs tears of joy, not tear gas. Can we give just give her a chance to heal, give birth and give us grandchildren?