Just be happy you’re here…immigrant!

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I’ve been an immigrant for over half my life now. South Africa is the 3rd country I have settled in since I left Zimbabwe at age 17. It’s always nice to move to a new country. New life, new people, new cultures, new languages…I mean, what’s not to like? Oh yes, the xenophobia. There’s usually always a bit of xenophobia to greet an immigrant wherever you emigrate to. That part of the experience is never nice.

Anyway, what I wanted to scribble about today is something I’m sure many immigrants have faced before. The “if you don’t like it, leave!” narrative. There is this notion that when you are an immigrant to a country, you don’t really have the right to complain about any shortcomings or negativity that country may have; that the country is doing you a favour by taking you in so you really should just “be a good immigrant and be happy you’re here.”

I remember once being attacked on Twitter because I was complaining about some government department in South Africa. Someone said to me “if you don’t like it why don’t you go back home?” That tweet gave more Tweeps the impetus to have a bit of a discussion on the matter. There were tweets like:

“I hate how foreigners come here and aren’t grateful for our hospitality”;

“Why do foreigners always complain? They are not prisoners here. They can just leave”;

“You allow people to come here and they start acting all fly”.

Now, this got me thinking…I live in South Africa. I may not be a citizen, but I am a resident. Do I not have a right to be unhappy about certain aspects of the country? And if I am unhappy, do I not have the right to complain?

And please note, this is not a South African phenomenon. From the United States, to the United Kingdom, to Australia. Ask immigrants in any country worldwide and they will tell you a similar story. It’s bizarre really. Why do locals feel the need to curtail the rights of foreigners to vocalize their grievances?

Anyway following my dressing down on Twitter, I was telling the Mrs. all about it. For context, she’s South African. I rant to her about how I think it’s so unfair and borderline prejudicial to be expected to live (or die, rather) in silence just because I am an immigrant who should be grateful to be living in SA. Guess what? She agreed…with the Twitter folk! WHAAAAT? She wasn’t as crass about it but she agreed with them nonetheless. Her exact words were “You can complain…just not like us”

Shocked-Face

It’s always a tricky subject. I guess immigrants can’t be choosers…or was that beggars? What do you think? Do you think immigrants should just be content with what they get from the host country and if they don’t like it, they should just leave? Or do you think immigrants should be allowed to complain if they are not happy?

 

**** just scribbling my immigrant thoughts ****

Dating Foreigners: What to expect

Intercultural

 

 

So I just learned my mate, a South African, last night got engaged to his girlfriend, a lovely Congolese lady. It got me thinking about the number of inter-cultural/racial/tribal/religion unions taking place nowadays. Taboo in years gone by, relationships with people from other ethnicities are now commonplace, thankfully.

 

Naturally, there any numerous negative stereotypes floating about as society pigeonholes those different from us. But hey, there are also loads of positive stereotypes that would entice one to date past international barriers. Stereotypes like “Zimbabweans are well endowed up stairs” or “Nigerians are well endowed downstairs”. 🙂

 

So to get you started on your cross-border love adventure, here are a few things to expect when dating a foreigner.

1. Language barrier – It’s all well and good when you’re together speaking in, say, English but when he’s with his mates/family, expect to hear a lot of this: “jibajaba, jabajiba, jibijibi, jabajaba…you okay sweety?”.

2. Culture shock – This is probably the best thing about picking a partner from a foreign pool. You think you’re the love of his life? Well guess what, his culture allows him to have multiple “loves of his life”. And may I remind you, polygamy is nothing like the ménage à trois you see on TV.

3. Deportation – Every time you go your separate ways, kiss him like you’ll never see him again…coz that might just be the case. For many immigrants, one minute you’re out shopping, next you’re in an immigration detention centre having a deportation farewell party.

4. Nuptials – While your friends may be struggling to find guys willing to pop the question, you won’t have to worry about that. Your immigrant boyfriend will be happy to marry you TODAY! Gotta get them papers fam.

5. Driving – You better get your chauffeur game on coz your immigrant hunk may not be able to get a local Driver’s Licence courtesy of his alien status.

6. Bambinos! – Oh, snap, he didn’t tell you he had kids…and a wife…back home? Forgive him, must have slipped his mind. After all, they are in another country. Out of sight, out of wedlock right?

7. Background checks – So you Googled his name, Peter Jones, and nothing came up? Not to worry, try Odawali Mutloto…that’s his birth name; the one he used before you met him. Oh, he forgot to mention that too? Ooops.

8. The Fuzz – Anytime your man sees the police, expect to hear this: “Oh shit. Lord please don’t let them stop us”…that’s coz, your man has no papers.

9. Romantic getaways – Speaking of papers, don’t expect any romantic international getaways for Valentine’s day. Your man can’t risk leaving the country. He may never be able to sneak back in.

10. Xenophobia – Now, we all know xenophobic/racist comments are everywhere right? So expect to hear some xenophobic commentary aimed at your man & his countrymen. Stuff like “Damn, those Nigerians are fraudsters” O_o. Yeah girl, they talking ’bout your boo.

11. The Parents – Don’t worry if your parents hate your man…his folks are probably always asking him why he can’t find a nice, well-mannered girl who’s…well, who’s not you.

 

12. Home Sweet Home (Affairs) – Yep, you’re going to spend more time at Home Affairs than you even knew was possible; filling in more forms than an insurance salesman. [Oh, Home Affairs is the “Home Office” for our UK friends or the “Immigration and Naturalization Service” for our American contingent.]

Jokes aside, dating someone of a differing nationality, race, tribe, or religion has its challenges but it’s also quite exciting. For comedic value, most of my “tips” of an expat are of an illegal immigrant. That’s obviously not always the case. Many are legal and in dating or befriending them, you can learn so much and experience diverse cultures and their congenial idiosyncrasies. So go ahead, embrace the other side.

*just scribbling my expat thoughts*

Welcome to Zimbabwe: 10 Fun Facts!

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Today is Zimbabwe’s Independence Day. Yes, on 18th April 1980, Zimbabwe gained it’s independence from British rule…whatever that means. But anyway, to celebrate our 35th birthday, I figured it would only be fitting if I shared a few fun facts about my beautiful motherland. So here are 10 fun facts about Zimbabwe:

1. Multi-currency – Zimbabwe is the world’s largest Bureau de Change. You can buy a loaf of bread that’s priced at R10 (South African Rands), pay with Euros, and receive your change in US Dollars, Pula, AND Rands. Every Zimbabwean is basically a walking currency converter!

2. Potholes – Our potholes have roads on them.

3. Cholera – Cholera is basically an ingredient.

4. Police – Our police put the ‘demon’ in demonstration.

5. Air Zimbabwe – some seats have no seat belts, so you just tighten the belt you’re wearing on your pants.

6. Swimming – We’d no doubt have the best swimmers…if the Olympics took place in the Limpopo River…and the finish line was South Africa

7. Water rationing – Water rationing is so effective we even turn off the Victoria Falls.

8. Fuel – If a girl asks you to take her out on a date somewhere expensive…you take her to a petrol station.

9. Diamonds – Erm, no, that’s just ketchup on our diamonds.

10. Elections – The fairest and most free elections in all the land. Need I say more?

Bonus Fact: Zim Dollar: As a friend of mine puts it “I’m a huge fan of the rapper 50cent…or as he’s now known in Zimbabwe,  500 million dollars” 🙂

Jokes aside, Zimbabwe is a lovely country and the people are the best. So do visit. I promise you’ll love it. Happy Birthday Zimbabwe!

*just scribbling my independence thoughts*

Hey Africa, Obama isn’t Jesus…not your Jesus anyway

I’ve got to say, there’s something that really grinds my nuts…ouch!…regarding Obama’s successful re-election. It’s nothing about the man himself, but rather about these expectations laid upon him from various corners of planet earth.

As always, let me start by noting that this isn’t soley an African problem, it is a global phenomenon. I focus only on Africa because it is the continent I know, understand, and love. I am African after all.

Following President Obama’s re-election, current discourse on social and traditional media seems to be concerned with what “Barack’s going to do for Africans”. The commonplace headline seems to be “Africa expects better from Obama after he disappoints in First Term”. Apparently this is Obama’s second chance to show his commitment to Africa.

My question is this: Why?! Why should Obama do anything for Africa? Because he’s black? Because his father was African? Because he seems like a nice guy? President Barack Hussein Obama is the president of the United States of America…in case you don’t know where that is, it’s not in Africa.

I’m sick and tired of this somewhat victim mentality that sees us Africans looking for help from elsewhere. I know and never underestimate the impact of hundreds of years of abuse in the form of slavery, colonisation, and apartheid. It’s devastating and its effects are passed down through generations. My own mother wasn’t able to go to school let alone her parents.

I know we suffer from a form of Post Traumatuc Stress Disorder (PTSD) but we need to heal. This inferiority complex has to go. We must start looking at ourselves in the mirror and start seeing a strong sovereign soul that has never ending belief and ability. One that throws away his Oliver Twist bowl and says “Fuck asking for more, I’m going to make myself a lot more”. I AM African!

Like I said before, Obama’s first priority is the people of the United States and rightly so. He’s their president, not ours. Should we celebrate his success? Of course, if you want to. Should he be an inspiration to us? Of course. I personally love Obama. He’s young (younger than most anyway), he’s fresh, he mobilised the normally politically apathetic youth of America to be involved in politics, and that’s just amazing. He’s black and can only be a positive for race relations in the U.S. But do I lie and wait for him to come to Africa and save me? From who? Myself? ‘Cause that’s who’s the real problem here. Me! I am my own worst enemy.

Obama isn’t African regardless of what you may want to tell yourself. WE are Africans and this is Africa, our Mother land, the land our forefathers tilled under the hottest of African suns. Africa is ours. She is our responsibility, as are her problems. You want Africa fixed, then get up, get out , and play your part. Leave Obama out of it.

The way I see it, there is nothing wrong with Africa that cannot be fixed by all that is right with Africa. *Just scribbling my thoughts!*

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