Zimbabwe: Being Patriotic, Regardless – allAfrica.com

A man in his mid-seventies walked into the restaurant and took a chair near the door, diagonally opposite to where I was sitting with my samoosa and fizzy drink.

There is something naughty and adventurous about doing what you know would make your mother cry — like drinking a fizzy when your acid levels indicate otherwise.

Each time I finish off the bottle, I feel like the cat that swallowed the canary.

The man ordered his own poison and as he gulped it down he made a rueful remark about how when he served in the Rhodesian army he was quite well-off, and could afford fashionable suits.

As he rambled on about always having money to spare I was tempted to sing him a song we sang as children about Rhodesian soldiers having nothing, but their frayed old uniforms on retirement.

I let him be and he said something about how there was always something for his money to buy — unlike these days.

Suddenly, it was a free for all and a lady, too young to have experienced what the retired former Rhodesian soldier was saying, chorused his words.

Another lady said something about the tragedy of so many Zimbabweans leaving the country.

I ventured an opinion about migration being among the most natural things to do, adding that it was characteristic of the animal kingdom to which humans also belong.

I wanted to say that it is always about food security, but could be driven by other considerations as has been the case throughout history, but a chorus of voices shut me up.

When the chorus subsided, I argued about some mothers’ sons the world over having left home and country in search of greener pastures and given rise to colonialism and imperialism — the subjugation of nations by other nations.

Looking back to my exchanges with “hungry”, yet moneyed people in the restaurant, I began to feel that it would be fascinating to find out whether or not, there were more people outside the countries of our erstwhile colonial powers than inside.

Emperor Shaka Zulu’s acumen, unequalled vision and military prowess redrew the map of Africa to the extent that today we have people as far afield as Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania, who trace their lineage back to Zululand and other areas.

No country in the world can be spared the experience of losing some of its people to other places in the world.

In actual fact, there is nothing untoward about having so many Zimbabweans outside the country.

A majority of Zimbabweans are welcome wherever they go because they punch well above their weight. For that reason migration is not necessarily a measure of failure or poverty. In some instances marketability is the cause of our itching feet.

Since time immemorial human beings have wandered from place to place, moving on when next it became necessary. When you find you have to sweat a little more for a living it is time to go.

The world is full of stories about people who left home never to return. Inevitably, the pangs of separation have been the impetus of some of the greatest literature of our time.

In James Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, on the day Stephen Daedalus leaves home he watches his mother pack his new second-hand clothes in his suitcase and hears her say something about how she prays that he learns away from home and friends, what the heart is, and what it feels.

Australian first nation people habitually go on the famous walkabout. A man on a walkabout carries no provisions, eats whatever he can find. The ground is his bed and the winking stars are his blankets. His many hours of solitude make him a resolute person.

Based on the evidence, we must accept that migration is a natural phenomenon. Herds of wild animals navigate their way in such places as the East African Rift Valley, North America and northern Europe. Everything migrates: birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects. Humans are no exception!

The distances covered in migrations are simply amazing. For example, the sooty shearwater, a common seabird, travels 20 000 miles to a new habitat, while the monarch butterfly does 2 000 miles.

Zimbabweans must stop mourning the country’s numbers in the Diaspora. Our people merely respond to empirical necessity. Let us maximise the benefits that accrue from having our people out there.

Our present circumstances and predicaments notwithstanding, tears of joy will cascade down our cheeks one day, as our dreams become reality. The darkest hour is always just before dawn. To paraphrase the words of Job: Though Zimbabwe slay me, yet will I trust in her still (Job 13:15). That is what patriotism entails, January disease or no.


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Publish date : 2019-01-02 07:29:09

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