About 2 years ago, I read the story of Jimmy I have decided to leave Zimbabwe who decided to leave Zimbabwe for greener pastures. When I read that story I thought it bore a very strong resemblance to my story.
My name is Takura, and like Jimmy, I had gotten tired of poor service delivery and dysfunctional systems in the country. I too got tired of dirty water, of power cuts, and of the numerous potholes that infest Zimbabwean cities. So I decided to cross the Limpopo and headed down South.
That was 4 years ago.
So you might as well say that I have been an immigrant for 4 years now.
But…today, as a surprise, allow me to share with you the frustrations of being an immigrant living in another country.
Down here in South Africa immigrants are called “foreigners” or “foreign nationals” but that’s when the locals are trying to be nice to us. They sometimes actually use the phrase “amakwerekwere”, and it’s a phrase that is used to describe immigrants from poor countries like Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, etc.
The country, South Africa, has it’s fair share of issues and problems but for some reason the locals choose to blame part of it to “foreigners” for “taking their jobs”, “bringing crime”, “bringing drugs”, “stealing our women”, and so forth.
This hostility and mind-set has led to sprites of attacks on foreigners which the whole world knows as “xenophobia”.
I have been blessed and am grateful to God that I have not encountered suck attacks on me or my family. And I am thankful that the SA government publicly condones such acts. But one cannot relax and be at ease knowing that tensions are present and who knows what may happen in the future.
Apart from these attacks on immigrants life as an immigrant here doesn’t quite turn out to be what we dreamed it would be.
And don’t misquote me or get me wrong.
The quality of life is great. We have clean water. We have electricity 24hrs a day. We have great internet. We can afford luxury without sweating much. We have roads that are awesome and public service delivery in hospitals, government departments is worth commending.
But there is always that nagging feeling and sentiment we have.
Most of us here are living ‘temporary lives’.
By that I mean that we are living lives here as though we know that one day we will go back home.
That is partly due to the way systems are setup here. To buy a car for example you need a valid permit or visa. You need proof of income and your documents must show that they do not expire before the term of the credit you are applying for. To buy a house you need to be an SA id holder, which means you need to be a permanent resident.
I cannot tell you all the times I have been frustrated by getting into a bank, or service centre and I have been asked to produce “permit, proof of employment, proof of address, etc”.
This is very frustrating.
Back home I didn’t need to carry books and files of documents whenever I needed to get essential services or buy certain things. I just needed my money.
Although the South African system has incorporated immigrants into their economy they still have application forms that clearly distinguish between “SA ID holder and Passport holder”. The documentation and conditions for passport holders is always one step further.
In fact, immigrants can’t even play lotto or enter competitions because the “T’s and C’s” do not cover passport holders.
These are just a few of the frustrations one meets as an immigrant.
I don’t think I am alone in this regard. Every time I meet a homeboy, “wezhira”, “wekumusha” , “wa-amai” we always share stories of how our lives here are “temporary” and that one day, we shall go back home. I know a lot of my fellow diasporans who share the same frustrations.
We are here not because we didn’t love our country, but because we are “economic refugees” seeking a way out of a broken system and a better life.
So what am I saying?
I pray that our country is restored. I wish for the day things get better in Zimbabwe.
I am hoping for a restoration and a rebuilding to happen because I MISS HOME.