Sad cases of Zimbos dying alone in the UK


AS more people live on their own here, a growing number of Zimbabweans are dying alone, with neither friends nor family surrounding them in their last moments.
For instance, one Maria, (last name withheld), died all alone, leaving behind a few possessions.
The police found in her bedroom a pot of Vaseline, a hot water bottle, a stuffed koala, a roll of tissue and a child’s snow globe.
It wasn’t much to show for 44 years of existence.
And these few scattered items were the only clues to her identity.
Her body had lain undiscovered for months until the gas company forced open the door to her upstairs flat in Manchester.
Her body was so decomposed that an inquest could not determine the cause of death.
No relatives could be traced in the UK.
However, the Zimbabwean community came together, traced her family in Zimbabwe while church members and the community at large assisted in repatriating the badly decomposed body to Zimbabwe.
Sadly, there are a growing number of people like Maria who die with no friends or family to notice.
Some have mental health problems and find themselves detached from the world.
Others are elderly and have outlived their families.
Early this year, a Zimbabwean woman died on the train; it emerged that she had been working with barely any rest.
In her house was a stash of more than 30 000 pounds in cash and 10 000 pounds in unclaimed pay sheets.
With no relative in the country, fellow church members took the money, traced the relatives in Zimbabwe and used some of the cash to send the body home.
Many Zimbabweans are dying alone here, leaving behind a lot of unclaimed money in the banks.
Most of the Diasporans do not make Wills and without a Will, it becomes difficult to claim the funds left in the banks.
Currently, in the UK, around 600 funerals a month are unattended, a figure set to rise as it is estimated that, by 2019, 16 million people in this country would be living on their own.
Where no relatives can be traced, the local authority pays for a basic cremation.
Often, the deceased’s ashes are disposed of in unmarked graves.
Their stories remain untold.
One wonders how many Zimbabweans are in those graves,
Unfortunately, many Zimbabweans came to the UK on Malawian, South African and Botswana passports, so repatriating them without proper documentation has become a nightmare.
Some Zimbabweans changed names and dates of births in order to gain entry in the UK.
These pose a great problem when they die.
Nobody knows exactly where they came from.
As a result, most of them are given paupers’ burials.
Maria’s story was told in a Channel 4 documentary that seeks to piece together the fragile archaeology of these lost lives.
Watch Me Disappear, directed by 27-year-old Lucy Cohen, also looks at the death of Akinyemi Akinpelu, a Nigerian student.
One wonders what is happening with our people.
Are we so disconnected from our past and relatives.
In these days of social media, why and how does one become so disconnected that he/she dies alone without anyone alerting someone.
Is it because we have cultivated an illusion that we work so hard here that at times we go for days or weeks without touching base with our loved ones back home?
Many people here have cut themselves off from people back home.
However, the consequences of doing that can be dire.
The English community may be overcrowded but still in that crowd, one dies alone, unnoticed and rots in the house.
The relatives back home rarely make follow-ups because they are now used to the long periods of ‘silence’ without any form of communication.
“Dying alone is a modern phenomenon because there is a lack of extended family,” said Lonsdale, a reporter for Channel 4.
And many Zimbabweans are topping the list of those dying alone. Keeping alone in a foreign land is the worst thing to do.
It has become necessary to belong in the various groups of Zimbabweans so that at least there are people who will inquire after your health and will notice your absence rather than be discovered rotting.
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  1. Ma Zimbabweans hatina kubatana we have a natural hatred for each other. I tried it where I live just to form a group it never materialised. Women think you want to ask them out while men think otherwise.
    It’s a shame really but that the reality


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