Tag: Zimbabwe

The little things I miss about home

There are days when I really feel nostalgic about home. When I speak of home I am usually referring to two places: my mother’s house, which is our family home in Zimbabwe and South Africa (my second home). I am currently living in Hong Kong and it is a far cry from what I used to call home. Here are some of weird things I really, really miss about being back home:

  • Weekends at home : Nothing beats a weekend in Zimbabwe or in South Africa. When we say woza Friday [literal translation, Come on Friday] we really mean it back home. Fridays and Saturdays in my home town mean a time to get together with friends and have what we call gochi gochi or chisanyama [braaied meat]. All kinds of meat will be barbequed,but a popular fave is pork chops, boerewors, chicken and beef mix. It goes really well with sadza [corn meal], a variety of salads and your favorite cold drink. This is standard!

.Image result for gochi gochi

My mouth is watering even as I write because it has been such a long time. Yeah, we get to barbecue once in a while here in Hong Kong with my African circle of friends, but most weekends it is more of the same diet (rice and something boiled as is common in Asia…sigh). I really miss weekends at home.

  • Greeting and talking to strangers: In Hong Kong everyone walks around mostly looking at their phones, usually avoiding eye contact. When you get into the metro rail or any public transport, no one is idly chatting about current events, politics and rising prices as it will be in any public transport back home. The commute is not fun at all and usually, because I am black, no one may want to sit next to me in the train or bus. I am used to it now that I don’t even notice. Some people would rather stand than sit next to you. If I walk into a room full of people, it is normal not to even say hello. Everyone is so busy minding their own business that I really miss that sense of community in the motherland.

Image result for metro rail hong kong passengers

 

  • Loud music blaring from anywhere (cars, in public transport, at the shopping centre) : This is a weird one, but I really miss hearing the sound of the latest local music anywhere I go. That is something you just don’t get in most places outside of Africa. If I want to hear some loud music, it will be a festival, live band or at a club; some form of organised event. But back home, it is common to hear music everywhere and I didn’t know it was something I would miss until it was gone.
Music Doodle
realplayer.com
  • A less rushed lifestyle: Back home, time seems to move slower than it does over here, not in Johannesburg though. Back in Zimbabwe I live in a small town and life is really slow there. By 6 pm, usually all shops and daily activities come to a halt and people gather in their homes for the evening. You may find a number of adult men and women who socialise in the evenings going to their favorite local bar, but this is mostly on the weekend. The African clock seems to work differently. According to this source things in Africa fall into place as they unfold. The pressure to always be working as is evident in the Hong Kong capitalist society is not evident back home. Here, everyone always seems to be racing against the clock and it has been a difficult thing to adjust to. This constant busyness does not leave room for real and lasting interactions.
  • Meeting new people : I always used to take it for granted that I could meet new people easily back home. In Zimbabwe, you can catch a ride with a stranger in the morning and you can easily become friends after that. Even dating is easier back home because there are so many avenues to meet people. Hong Kong is not short of people, but it is just that it is a closed society that is not very easy to integrate in. So, if you belong to a minority population, it is very difficult to meet and make new friends whilst doing random stuff, like walking to the shops.

Image result for random chat whilst walking

Yup,  that never happens where I live and I kinda miss that.

What are some of the weird things you miss about your home town that you never thought you would miss until they were no longer there?

Day 17 Blogtember Challenge

#MyAfricaMyWords

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Africa, the land of the educated?

I have been pondering lately on education and our beautiful African continent. Look, it is no surprise that Africa is full of intelligent and really bright young minds. But, I am not sure if  I still have that much confidence in our education system. Why is it that for one to be taken seriously on the global platform, they need to have added some form of overseas training to their CV? What is it that makes our academic qualifications less recognised in most disciplines? Why are our graduates at home, unemployed?

thinking bitmoji

 

Without pulling the race card and thinking back to the role played by colonization and Bantu education (South Africa), what has stopped the African nation states from improving the quality of our education system? Zimbabwe is, according to some reports, the best-educated country in Africa, with literacy levels over 90 per cent – putting it ahead of South Africa, Kenya and Namibia. However, its population’s access to higher education is about 8 per cent, far behind South Africa (with 18 per cent access) Source

The higher education system in Zimbabwe took a huge blow in 2017 when it became public knowledge that the University of Zimbabwe, which was the country’s first and most respected university, granted a PhD to the wife of former President, Robert Mugabe, who had no formal educational qualifications, had not attended the university nor written a thesis. Apparently, she registered two months before she was granted the degree. Now, as someone struggling with a PhD myself, I know that does not sound right. Acts such as these from an institution of higher learning taint the whole reputation of the education system.

Higher education in Africa faces the challenge of high percentages of unemployed graduates. Graduates are losing hope because they cannot turn their degrees into gainful employment.  In August 2016, Zimbabwean graduates took to the streets to protest under the banner #thisgown, the gown being the graduation gown they wore at graduation.

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Source:ZiMetro

They were angry and frustrated at the reality of graduating and sitting at home for 3-5 years or even more. After years of struggling with tuition and accommodation fees, graduate families were left worse off than before; yet there is no relief.

I have been fortunate enough to study abroad and have not yet experienced unemployment (touch wood), and when I think of my fellow mates back home, I cannot help but wish there was a solution to the hopelessness. I picture a continent where young people feel confident about their pursuits in life. If higher education is one of their goals, that they feel confident in that someday their hard work will pay off. We come from a continent where very few of us inherit wealth from our parents or grandparents. Being educated used to be our way out of poverty and, but is that still the case? Someone said:

education is a tool to eradicate poverty, but it needs to be of a high quality.

I still believe in the power of education to change lives, in fact, it has changed my life. But the reality is different for a lot of people back home.  What can we do? If anything…

In our own small way, with the aim of giving back to our society, my friend Uchechi from Nigeria and I have started a research network. We hope to provide mentorship services to younger people seeking to get into academia. Young people aiming for a research degree or already pursuing one can benefit from information such as scholarships, proposal writing, academic writing workshops and general career guidance related to research. You can get in touch with the Global South Research Network on IG, Facebook, Twitter @GSRPGroup.

GSRPG

We start with what we know how to do and hope that one day, our goals of making the world a better place will be realised.

Day 12

BlogTember Challenge

 

Where are my manners?

I grew up in an African household where I was taught to always greet my elders respectfully and when I meet adults whom I do not know, to introduce myself properly and politely.

So in honour of an age-old tradition of respect and salutations, I greet everyone who is reading this blog. Allow me to introduce myself to the new readers and reintroduce myself to the older ones. If I was at home, I would be greeting you by clapping my hands as shown in the image below:

 

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Image from http://www.thevillageculture.blogspot.com

 

I would be clapping my hands together in a rhythm that Shona people [my native Zimbabwean tribe] will understand. The way you cup your hands and clap them makes a certain sound that sounds like bu bu bu, sort of like the sound of a small drum. Greeting in this way is a form of respect especially when greeting elder people.

I go by the name Getrude Dadirai Gwenzi, and I was born in Zimbabwe on the first day of the year 1986 (Yes, I am a New Year baby : -) I have been blogging since 2012 and this year my blog is 6 years old. My middle name Dadirai is Shona and according to This Is My Baby Name website it means be a show off. It is a word used in response to the other person showing off to you or being prideful, and you respond by saying “go ahead, show off” :-). what a name. I guess my mother was showing her inner strength against all the people who were looking down on her and making her feel less than when she was pregnant with me. On reflection, I realise she passed on that same attitude to me as I really do not pay attention to people who think and act as if they are better than me.

I was raised in Zimbabwe, first in a township called Chitungwiza in Harare (Zimbabwe’s capital) before we moved to a small town called Mvurwi. Mvurwi has town status but it is generally surrounded by farms. My mother is a nurse, a farmer and the most extraordinary woman, I am glad to get to call her mum. I will forever be grateful for the home she created for us, about 100km away from the hustle and bustle of Harare. Mvurwi is the place my family has called home for the past two decades and it really is a beautiful place. See the images below:

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Mvurwi
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Pamvura Cottage Mvurwi

 

There is so much more to know about me, but since this was just a greeting I will end here for today. I am one of those people who cringe when they meet a stranger for the first time and the stranger goes on and on about themselves for a long time.  So, I will not be one of those people. To those who already know me, well, I am practicing the less is more concept these days :-).

I am looking forward to sharing more about where I come from in this #MyAFricaMyWords blog everyday challenge.

Day 2 done and dusted.

GG

There is no place like home…

I am sitting in the airport lounge, fighting back tears. I hate goodbyes…

Still can’t believe six months went by so fast.  I am now convinced that it is better to stay away from home than to go home and have to leave again. And this is coming from a self-confessed unsentimental (antonym of sentimental) person.

For a bit of background for the new readers (Welcome btw👋): I traveled from Hong Kong to my motherland, Zimbabwe in July 2017 and stayed there for the past six months. The purpose of my trip home was to carry out fieldwork for the Ph.D. project I have been working on since 2016. So, after spending months at home with my mother, making new friends and spending time with old ones; I had to leave all of that behind and come back to Hong Kong.

Highlights of my time at home:

a) This might be surprising but I love my home country Zimbabwe so much. It was such an exciting time to be home when Robert Mugabe finally resigned from being President after 37 years in office. I am the least political person you will ever meet, but the month of November 2017 was a great time in Zimbabwean politics.

b) My sister came to visit me from Cape Town. My sister is my best friend, so you can just imagine how that week when she visited made me feel. I had last seen her in 2014 when I left Cape Town so this was a lovely reunion.

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c) I spent Christmas at home with my mother and it was an unforgettable time. Anyone who knows me knows that this woman is my rock, my everything. Since the passing of my dad last year, I cherish every moment I spend with her even more. She is more than a parent, she is a friend, a confidant… I run out of words to express how I feel.

d) I also celebrated the start of the new year 2018 at home. New Year’s day is special because it also happens to be the day I was born, so spending it at home was something I will always cherish. I am a year older, hopefully, wiser.

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As I reflect back to my time in Zimbabwe, I feel that there will be no place like home. I can travel to many countries but home will always have a special place in my heart.

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Mvurwi is naturally beautiful

 

It has a different feel to it, full of childhood and teenage memories; full of hope and laughter. It makes me sad to know that I will not be going back until this Ph.D. is over…and that, my friends, is a long time from now.  I hold on to the beautiful memories of the time spent at home. P.S: I have too many pictures from my time at home, they would need ten other blog posts. So, please don’t feel bad if I took a picture with you and it is not in this post.

I was greeted by warm weather when I arrived in Hong Kong, but it’s cold again because it’s winter here in Hong Kong.  Winter in Hong Kong is between December-February with average temperatures of between 16 ° and 20 ° Celsius. This is mild compared to other winters I have experienced. I am currently having trouble sleeping because my body still needs to adjust to the time difference.

On a positive note, I have lots to catch up on with my Hong Kong family of friends, lots of things to look forward to and lots of opportunities for new beginnings.

Let’s see how this year goes. I will surely update you guys 😉

Currently Homesick,

GG

Fighting for balance…life and the Ph.D.​

For those who are new to the blog, let me start with a little introduction…I am a Ph.D. student, about to begin my second year. I study Sociology and Social Policy with a focus on childhoods and families. I am currently at home, in Zimbabwe, for my field work (data collection).

Being back home means adjusting to a new schedule. When I was back on campus in Hong Kong, I set my own time and I really thought I was managing quite well (if my 1st-year annual evaluation is anything to go by). But, since I came home to begin the practical part of my work, I feel so overwhelmed with the amount of work that is facing me daily.

 

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Image from Google http://www.pairadimes.davidtruss.com

 

I chose to live with my mum for the duration of my field visit. Now all my Zimbabweans know how a Zimbabwean mother’s household is run. There is no excuse for not waking up at first light to clean the house and run some errands, before anything else. I am a bit of a nocturnal animal, in that, I work better at night. This means I struggle to wake up early, my mornings usually start around 10 am, and I still need lots of caffeine to be fully functional. So when I realized I was waking up exhausted most mornings, I started negotiating with the matriarch of the house to cut me some slack in the mornings so I can focus on the Ph.D. What a laugh!!!  She told me point blank that I just need to wake up much earlier and I will be able to manage everything. In her words,

mukadzi anomuka makuseni, basa remumba first, then you can do whatever you want during the day” which translates to “A woman wakes up in the morning, house chores first then you can do whatever you want during the day”.

I had almost forgotten that to my mum I am always a wife in training (sigh). So, you see my predicament? I have academic work piling up and I have to balance it with all my other responsibilities as a daughter. I never thought I would say this, but I am realizing how hard that is. In my own world (which seems a bit selfish now), it was all about me, me, me. Now I have to stretch myself to make this work, which is a challenge at the moment.

 

FindingYourBalance
Image from Google http://www.tech.co

 

Guess the lesson here is that I have to find balance, in all things. I am not sure how, but I have to. If you have any tips, please drop them below…

Overwhelmed,

GG

Food for thought…

As a budding sociologist, I found the above article very interesting and thought to share on this blog. Consider the quotes below, from the article…

They say when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. And the risk is that when every policy adviser is an economist, every problem looks like inadequate per-capita gross domestic product.

Shouldn’t we consider other views, such as sociological views on what is going on in the world, in Zimbabwe, in the US?

Economics is only a piece of a broader, societal problem. So maybe the people who study just that could be worth listening to.

One comment I liked on this post in NY Times:

Mathivanan India March 18, 2017
It’s true. Economy is a social institution. Therefore, economic problems are part of social problems. When economists look into economic problems they generally miss the woods for the tree. Sociologists can see an economic problem in a wider perspective but are not specialists. What we need is multidisciplinary approach.

What do you think?

LIVING IN BEITBRIDGE…

Welcome to the newest chapter of my life…LIFE IN BEITBRIDGE!!!

As I blog I am sitting in a room that is sweltering with heat. A massive 40 degrees of hot weather…that is how I have been welcomed to Beitbridge town. My crazy life has led me into yet another exciting journey, from the cold and wet Cork City in Ireland to the extreme opposite dry and hot weather in Beitbridge, Zimbabwe. As I am going to be here for some time, I thought I would share this journey with my readers.

Beitbridge interests me for a number of reasons. I am here for work and will be exploring the rural areas of Beitbridge conducting much needed developmental work. Rewind to November 2015, a month after my arrival to Zimbabwe, I got a job as a Social Anthropologist at a research institute in Harare. This, in a nutshell, means I conduct social research and engage in social dialogue with communities as well as engaging in the rich culture and lives of people in their lived environments. I will be working on a project that supports mopane worm (madora) harvesters to improve their livelihoods. I am recently learning that there are populations living in conditions of food insecurity in Zombabwe’s dryest parts, particularly because there is no rain this year compared to other years. Mopane-Worm-Salad-Slide

That is actually a madora salad…who knew??? You learn new things every day.

These populations rely on mopane worms (madora, amacimbi) as their main food and income source. I am curious to know what else can be done with mopane worms and I am happy to say I have tasted them, I have touched a live mopane worm too!!!

If I say this work excites me, I am grossly understating how my new job makes me feel. I am grateful to God for the opportunity and the grace to be able to do what I love in my own country.

So welcome to my life in Beitbridge where I will be for a few months before I move on to other interesting projects. I am with a group of colleagues, which is just about it in terms of who I know in these parts. Living in Matebeleland South means getting exposed to new languages, the majority of people speak Venda, I heard a sprinkling of Sotho and Ndebele. Someone said some people speak Shangaan.  Shona and English are being used but not in the villages where I spend most of my days. This means I have to learn Venda fast!!! I am living in Beitbridge town, which I was quite impressed to see is quite developed now. There are hotels,  casinos , a shopping centre with most facilities including banks and supermarkets. Another plus is that Beitbridge is the border town between South Africa and Zimbabwe. If I could cross to South Africa, it is just less than 20km away to Musina. Sigh…

COLD WATER  has become a very important commodity. This place is HOT but I am staying hydrated. Dressing around the villages needs to be conservative as this is a conservative community, so goodbye to shorts and minis. I will be posting pictures of my new wardrobe which includes ankle length skirts, long sleeved tops (no cleavage) and definitely a sun hat. This is definitely new because everyone who knows me knows I love my shorts.  In Beitbridge town though, where I am currently reside, I can wear jeans and normal tops.

I hope to update my blog often so you can join me on this journey. I actually think I need to blog to stay sane as well as writing is my escape. I am taking lots of pictures and will probably do a vlog so that I show you the environment I am working in, especially the villages. I have already been introduced to the Venda culture of greeting the Village Headman whom I have met and engaged with a few times. See image below that illustrates how Venda women greet traditional leadership

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Image from https://underwaterheritage.files.wordpress.com to illustrate how village leadership is greeted by women. I did this myself, pity I could not take a pic because the Headman was present.

Do follow my journey and feel free to engage with me at any point if you have questions, advice for life in Beitbridge and anything else.

Love from GG…