“Pamberi neZANUPF… Pamberi neRevolution… Pasi neNeo-colonialism…Aluta Continua.” (Forward with ZANUPF…Forward with the revolution…Down with neo-colonialism…The fight continues). Known and infamous for political tyranny and economic upheaval, slammed by international actors and shunned by it’s African counterparts.
While others look past its luscious landscape, humble-hearted people and rich cultural heritage and see only a country ruined by political instability and stained by a hatred of colonialism, I see My Zimbabwe. Great Zimbabwe, a country once lauded for its beauty and national pride.
As shocking as this may be to some, I would have loved to grown up in Zimbabwe. Although I was born there and can still (and proudly) claim its nationality, I can’t claim many of its cultural influences (except the important ones like intelligence and humility of course). My parents immigrated to South Africa shortly after I was born and here I am today. Eager to keep my Zimbabwean-ness I made annual visits back home to see vanagogo na mainini (grandmother and aunts).
Let me take you on a trip to Zimbabwe. We can either take the plane or the bus, but for the sake of getting the full experience, let’s take the bus. So, after what seems like an eighteen hour bus trip from Johannesburg, Park Station, we finally arrive at the Beitbridge border and are cordially welcomed by the strong stench of stale urine and garbage. We have to rush to the line hurdling past hungry and pushy beggars to get our passports checked unless we want to stand in a cramped line (with a couple of personal space invaders) for a good three to four hours. Finally, now that we’re hot, frustrated and have exchanged a few non-PC words with an official, we’re back on the bus and entering into ex-Rhodesia.
Greeted by a beautiful landscape, dirt roads and street vendors selling maputi (coloured popcorn) and other delectable we pass through the empty streets of Bulawayo town, there are only a few vehicles on the road as the burden of petrol prices is an unwanted liability. Few stores fully functional, many have closed down or emptied.
Its hard to doze off because the multiple potholes make the journey less than smooth, but just a few minutes before you lose all feeling in your butt and legs, we turn the corner to see the “‘Welcome to Tshabalala” headboard. Little snott-nosed kids playing soccer in dusty roads, elderly people sitting on verandas soaking up the midday sun, girls and boys running around with mafreezits (frozen lollipops) and of course the smell of roasted chibage (mealies) in the air (my mom’s favourite). Immediately upon arrival its imperative kumbwa tea (drink tea), tea with the family (regardless of the weather) and tea in this case includes anything between coffee, hot chocolate and juice. Within the first hour my younger cousins are already ravishing through my suitcase like treasure hunt, my aunt’s already sending me to the shops and subjecting me to the harsh glaze of the merciless Zim sun. To top everything off, going home would be nothing without hearing my gran shout at something to dzikambwa.
The best part about going back home undoubtedly has to be the warm reception, open arms and the feeling of belonging. Regardless of how far you venture off or where you go, no matter the hardship or ruling party…home is always best!