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But are you really Zimbabwean?

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There’s something that makes many people who don’t know me think that I am not a Zimbo upon first meeting me.

No, it’s not the Bohemian dressing and my propensity to mix colours that should otherwise never be assembled together within one outfit (although some say that that is why they think I am Jamaican/ Kenyan/ Brazilian etc.).

It is actually more about my jelly belly and all those other spongy bits on my body.

“Hawu sisi, but you can’t be a Zimbabwean,” a South African woman once argued as we rummaged through clothes in a boutique in Polokwane together. A few minutes before, she had tried to engage me in a conversation in Xhosa and I had politely informed her that I didn’t understand what she was saying.

And so she asked, “Are you Kenyan?”

“No,” I said.

“Mozambican, Malawian, American, Jamaican?”

“Zimbabwean,” I finally said to stop her from reciting all the nations on the global map.

But she didn’t believe me.

With a look at me from my head through my middle and then straight down to my toes, she concluded, “You are too healthy to be Zimbabwean.”

This was at the peak of the cholera epidemic when it seemed that the whole Zimbabwean population would be wiped out by the scourge.

And what she meant was that I was too fleshy, too bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to be coming from a collapsing country.

She is not the only one who has said this to me.

It seems everywhere I go, people have a perception that Zimbabwe is just a sorry pit in the ground infested with starvation and disease.

And why wouldn’t they? Any international news about us is all doom and gloom, horrifying statistics and depressing facts – no images of smiling healthy people.

So when you are the only Zimbabwean a person has had the opportunity to meet, the shock that yes, you do wear clean clothes, look well-fed and articulate – is all too much for them to bear. You should actually be half-way to dead and completely dejected.

Now that CNN, BBC and all the other foreign media stations have been allowed back into Zimbabwe, I truly hope that they will begin to beam messages of hope and happiness about this dear nation once more. One of my favourite sayings states that in the world, there is great suffering; but also great overcoming of it. That saying could have been written for the plight of Zimbabwe and its people.

3 comments to “But are you really Zimbabwean?”

  1. Comment by uko:

    I do not believe that the health of the Zimbabwe population can be judged by one person or by the international media, any how I should it all way nice to cook with spices in order to add flavor. May all those with genuine political interest be granted a fair playing field without labels such as, It is true we all commit to our own ideologies, but the question is whether it is right or not we may not want to hear. May God Bless you and keep you health forever.

  2. Comment by Joseph:

    We shall overcome. Zimbabwe is emerging as the centre of Hope, the land of peace and the Paradise of Africa. We have gone through a lot and the effort we are putting to correct our mistakes is paying. Very soon (next year) we will be exporting maize.
    Past is past, well will make it, we had a corrupt government, but now a less corrupt and a bit people oriented government. Though there are still some elements of corruption and sleeping but we are getting there. Of course we still have a ruthless leader but we have a fatherly PM.

  3. Comment by Gerald:

    Sadly there are those that fit the Zimbabwean stereo type i.e hungry, deseased, dejected, ill-clothed and without hope, and while we are shopping in Polokwane and walking the deceptively glossy streets of Harare, we might easily forget that they are out there and being in the majority, are probably a correct representaion of the average Zimbabwean today.