#Diaspora gets a shock as Zimbabwe deteriorates beyond dreams
It has been a couple of weeks since I returned from a two weeks holiday in Zimbabwe. I have tried writing down my thoughts on my experience but it seemed such a struggle to find the right voice. I was torn between speaking as a tourist or as a somewhat pseudo citizen. I have lived out of Zimbabwe for over 10 years but like many diasporans, I feel closer to home than when I lived there.
This was not a special homecoming trip. I visit Zimbabwe regularly, I was there last year. Every time though, something new always intrigues me in either positive or negative way. I have come to expect it. However, nothing could have prepared me for the water situation at my parents house in Zengeza. I found myself hating being home. To me, this was a step too far. Why, is it ok for people to have to resort to digging wells to ensure adequate reliable water supply in a place that has or I suppose had, a fully functioning water system? I could not deal with the deterioration of basic service delivery. That “wish you were here” postcard was not going to be posted…
Trouble is that citizens has now accepted that city fathers will not solve water problems any time soon.Zimbabwe regime now lacks the will to improve conditions for citizens.
My frustration was at the almost nonchalant way that people seemed to have accepted the situation. The water woes had just been added on to the mumblings about the power cuts. While it was clearly not well with people, it looked to me, like people had just adapted to the new situation and kept it moving. For what it’s worth, a great deal of recycling is being done as people don’t throw away anything that can be used to store water. That is good…I suppose.
These feelings made me feel like I had become that Westernised spoilt local who frowns upon home situations. I thought, if the people are finding a coping strategy, why am I angry? Am I being patronising? Should I be angry? I was only on holiday so why was I getting so emotional over it? For a second, I thought I was wrong. I wasn’t. Yes, I don’t live in Zimbabwe anymore. Yes, people are sort of coping. But why must they settle for mediocrity? Why should I not criticise? I soon realised where my anger was stemming from. This wasn’t a case of people being “underdeveloped”. This was a case of deterioration of development! These things used to be there, used to be efficiently run and effective! So yes, my anger is justified because this is a case of selling people short. Undeservedly so.
Saying that though, the greatest and hopeful lesson is that people will always find solutions, temporary or not, to challenges they face. That is encouraging and admirable.
Water shortages are not the only problem urban dwellers face. Scenes of raw sewage flowing down the streets is no longer news
I’m reminded of the man who sells roasted chibage by the bus stop. I see him there every time I visit regardless of season. Many have come and gone with their stalls, but his has remained thriving. I asked my father it meant that it’s the only thing he can do. My father said that perhaps, for him, it was the solution to his problems. A workable solution that he has probably grown to love and that sustains his family.
Tapped water has been replaced with borehole drills scattered all over towns.At least the water is safe.
And that’s what it is about Zimbabwe. You get upset over many issues but there is that humble positivity that lingers in a distance. You see it in the people who, despite struggle, get up in the morning to go to work, you see it in the children singing and playing in the dusty streets, you see it everywhere. It’s that barbed hope, the key is somewhere, one day, it’ll be turned in and delivery from mediocrity will come through.