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The Grass Is Not Greener On The Other Side Of The Fence

By Constance Van Neikerk

A hard reality most discover too late, the grass is only greener where it is watered. Many Africans have left their countries of origin in search of greener pastures. Some landed in countries like South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Egypt to mention just a few.

Migration is nothing new and I landed in South Africa, a beautiful country with such a diverse people. I love this rainbow nation. Unfortunately as we say in Shona, ‘hakuna nyika isina rinda’. This means, there is no land country without graves. There simply is no place without any witches. A lesson I have learnt is, as Africans, let us deal with domestic issues, instead of running away from home. Someone once asked me, “If one light bulb in your house burns out, do you leave the entire house in search of another house or do you fix the light bulb?”

Something got broken in my once beautiful home, the land of Zimbabwe, zimba ramabwe, house of stone. I didn’t have the patience to fix it. Like so many of us today, we run away from every bad situation we find ourselves in. We don’t want to fix anything. One fight in a relationship, we are gone. A misunderstanding with a colleague, we block them on social media. One wrong word leads to months and even years of silent treatment. We are the generation that wants an astounding finished product but we do not want to go through the process. We do not want to put in the work.

Back to my land, my Zimbabwe.

Vendors selling fruit from their push carts on the streets of Harare, Sunday, May 1, 2016, as Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating International Workers Day, which is held annually to recognise the economic and social achievements of workers globally. According the African Development Bank statistics, over two thirds of the country’s population are employed in the ‘informal’ sector.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

My salary was not enough to buy basic groceries in 2007, so I ran away from home, seeking greener pastures in neighbouring South Africa. Like I already mentioned, it’s a beautiful land this! Unfortunately, it can only carry so much on its shoulders. The land has become over-populated.

The resources are now strained, the economy is slowly dying. This is not only because of the influx of foreign nationals, but we do add on to the woes. Covid-19 has taken me out of my comfort zone and made me realise that this is not my home. It is home to my son, a proudly South African young boy, but it is not my home.

The saying, ‘mwana wamambo muranda kure’ is so true. A king’s child is a slave when he is not in his father’s kingdom. When the children are being fed, you are not considered there, because you are not an heir. You are a stranger. What is sad is, even the children of the land are suffering.

Unemployed SA nationals are given a monthly R350 grant. I wonder how far it goes, school fees for one child is more than R400 each month. The transport is even more than that. Basic food items for an average family costs at least R1000. Electricity is also quite expensive. How does the average unemployed person survive on R350? A decent room to rent costs not less than R1000. As for women, sanitary pads are R22 and roll-on is approximately the same amount. That is already almost R50 gone on only two items.

SA UNISA students received some covid-19 relief funds. That is really wonderful for them, but what about the other students from various countries studying at this prestigious institution? Unfair, right? Many have received food parcels in the country, but these food parcels are only for those with South African IDs. A lot of people have lost their jobs due to covid-19 regardless of nationality.

Things are very bad for everyone at the moment, but worse for the foreign national. Recently, there was talk on social media to burn down foreign-owned spaza shops. I own none, yet I can not turn a blind eye. Will burning the spaza shops help anyone? Trucks driven by foreign nationals have been burnt down in past incidences. Lives have even been lost in xenophobic spurts.

I understand the frustration yet violence is not the way. As Africans, let us unite against corrupt leaders.  This is an open secret that our African leaders have become selfish, corrupt and even evil to the very same people who voted them into power. It is the common people who suffer.

Back to my land, my home that is like that Christmas dress that once was so precious now full of tears, holes and stains, it’s unrecognizable. It is now nothing but just a rag, waiting for the fire or trash can. Is there any hope for you my once beautiful land? I’m done running and hiding.

I want a better Zimbabwe, if not for me, but for my children and their children’s children. I might not come back today, but I will come back. Zimbabwe kumba! It is my right as a Zimbabwean citizen to say ‘enough is enough!’ My life matters!