The loneliness Zimbos never talk about…a place’s beauty doesn’t brush away sadness


A FRIEND of mine, Ronald Sabelo Mabuza, a celebrated Swazi lawyer who is lodged permanently in South Africa, used to recite this passage from The Thorn Bird by Colleen McCullough: “There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth.
From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one.
Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine.
And, dying, it rises above its own agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale.
One superlative song, existence the price.
But the whole world stills to listen and God in His heaven smiles.
For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain…Or so says the legend.”
The saddest times of one’s life is when he/she is lonely in a foreign land.
One has to rise above the pains and suffering of foreign land to make it the following day.
One could be 10 minutes from the beach, with all the fresh fruit and vegetables and margaritas one would want, but still floating in the pool of misery.
The feeling of being lonely and vulnerable grows stronger everyday.
When people migrate, many think they are ready for the move and can face anything, but instead, they find themselves spending long afternoons in bed, holding back tears.
What worsens the situation is that there is no one to trust and share the frustration with.
The beauty of a place does not brush away one’s feelings of sadness or discomfort.
When we travel abroad, we often get pressured into pretending to love and gush over about everywhere we go and everything we see.
Everything we encounter is ‘breath-taking’, ‘beautiful’, and ‘rich in’, but in reality the life abroad is sad, lonely and hard.
We should be able to talk about these issues, the challenges that come with living and working abroad.
Emotional intelligence and mental health is important for us all!
Those left back home wish to also go abroad while those abroad wish to go back home.
There is a popular saying: “Kusina mai hakuendwe,” (never go where your mother is not).
The saying makes sense once you are abroad.
Basic things make you homesick.
The most terrible music you never imagined yourself listening to become anthems you hear everyday.
Anything mentioning your home on TV will see you jump to record.
The loneliness then breeds a fatal depression and in most cases, many people suffer in silence and all alone.
One tries to be strong, but always behind the facade is a weak suffering person.
Many are breaking down, all alone and crying themselves to sleep.
Many people, seem to think international travel is a ‘break’ from real life, a vacation.
However, being abroad doesn’t mean real life stops, or everything is perfect, or that we are suddenly happy all the time.
Some Zimbabweans here have taken loans, bought houses back home but are under pressure to repay them.
“When I first came to the UK, I found my job challenging and exhausting,” said Farai Machando, a Zimbabwean teacher in the UK.
“I had no friends and felt very alone, the snow and beauty of the beaches could not lift my gloominess.
“It was okay for me to realise I was sad and why.
“Life is difficult outside your comfort zone.”
Peter Matereke from Southend in the UK said: “One learns quickly that a new place will not necessarily fix you or your life.
While, it might solve some problems, it also has many challenges.
Eventually, after I stuck it out for a year, things improved, my job shifted, I met some people, English became easier and life looked up.
I still think back to my time in the UK with bitter sweetness.
It is a challenging time, but I learned so much about myself. England does not make people; it simply reveals you.”
In the UK, it is the inequality, the horrible treatment of blacks, a political system which is anti-people of different backgrounds that gets one.
When you notice these things you cannot help but be sad and think about home.
The UK is not a nirvana, it is a place fraught with its challenges and its fair share of the ugly.
For views and comments, email:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here