Diaspora confused on helping home


AT a graduation party of a friend, I entered into a discussion with some friends on whether Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have an obligation to help loved ones back home.
We concluded that while Zimbabweans abroad are not obliged to visit or help those back home, those who assist should not be scorned.
Many felt that people back home only think of the Diaspora in monetary terms.
Those who came here, while young, are now grown up and many back home have expectations from them
But the topic of identity is becoming more and more complex for young people born and raised in the West.
The young Diaspora, wherever they come from, become more integrated into host countries and gradually lose connection with their countries of origin.
Unlike their parents who have direct emotional connections back home, the young people here are more connected to their immediate environment.
So the parents have begun making investments for their children here.
Big houses are being built to be inherited by children who are not likely to return to Zimbabwe.
These children have been viewed as foreigners in their own country yet their parents’ investments are in Zimbabwe.
Thus the parents have begun to make investments in the UK.
In the UK, Zimbabwean youth are identifying with the terms ‘black’ ahead of ‘Zimbabwean’.
Those who call themselves ‘Africans’ as an affirmative portrait of one’s identity highlight a recognised affirmation of connection to the continent.
The question of culture and identity remains both a blessing and a burden with regards to the question of ‘Where is home?’ for many young people of Zimbabwean origin living in the UK.
While travelling between London and Corby, I have met young blacks who insist that though they are black and their parents are of Zimbabwean origin; they don’t feel inclined to help those in Zimbabwe since the host country is now their home.
‘Home is where you lay your head and where you are welcome’, they insist.
Relatives are those who call to enquire about your welfare, not just to ask for money.
While we are living in an epoch where the young’s perception of ‘Zimbabwe’ is gradually changing and becoming more positive; certain trends still remain the same.
Zimbabwe, in terms of media coverage, is getting positive coverage, especially in the areas of tourism and business.
But there seems to be a ‘ceiling’ where these appraisals end. When it comes down to individual contact with Zimbabwe, the Diaspora feels let down, said Tapuwa Deda of Leicester.
For example, the London definition of ‘representing your roots’ for an increasing amount of young blacks may be to go to the Independence Day celebrations or supporting your nation if they make it to the World Cup or African Cup of Nations.
Zimbabwe’s negative perceptions have not only come from the Western media.
Our own parents, aunties, uncles, older brothers and sisters have contributed to the negative perception of some of our children in the Diaspora.
They present Zimbabwe as a ‘beggar village’.
Some of our elders who come here have nothing positive to say about home and their upbringing which also affects the mind-set of our children.
These conversations do not only take place at parties or the barbers’; but also at home.
And the desire of the young, especially towards ever wanting to live or travel to ‘that nation’ called Zimbabwe, is diminished.
We have many young Zimbabweans in the UK who understand their mother-tongue but ‘refuse’ to speak it, not because they cannot, but because they lack confidence due to elders who mock their accents.
“When I don’t speak my mother-tongue, they’ll complain that I’m losing touch with my culture; when I try to speak the language, they tease me instead of encouraging me. It’s not an excuse but for a teenager this can be very off-putting,” said Tatenda Tanyanyiwa.
The same children whom we desire to grow interested in their cultural heritage are discouraged by the very same people who point fingers at them, their loved ones.
But what does this have to do with ‘feeling obliged to help’ Zimbabwe?
An increasing number of young Africans born or brought up in the Diaspora, compared to previous generations of African migrants, are increasingly finding reasons to stay put and contribute to the economies of their host nations instead of their countries of origin.
They don’t see themselves going back home and they do not feel loved.
The young Diaspora have pointed to reasonable life comforts such as employment, investment returns and social security opportunities accessible in host countries as opposed to negative perceptions associated with Africa; including political instabilities, lack of trust and poverty to be additional explanations for the lack of financial connection with Africa.
Many a time, the black Diaspora, in search of identity and ancestral heritage, are sometimes taught to re-value and appreciate their home in Africa, but when it comes to their future, it may be a different story.
It is, however, encouraging to see a growing number of young people of African origin taking an interest in developments back home; perhaps this is due to the growing news that Zimbabwe is the next place to invest in and how things are improving socio-economic-wise.
However, most important is that one must travel to see his or her own place of origin before arriving at any conclusion.
For views and comments: vazet2000@yahoo.co.uk


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