Why Are Diasporans Not Returning Home?

Just over a week ago, Power FM ran a segment where they were discussing Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and trying to understand the reasons for them not wanting to return home. The hosts came up with some reasons as to why they thought Diasporans were not returning home and they went on to invite listeners to air their opinions on the topic. Some of the listeners were themselves recent returnees and had valid points to put forward but in their case, the opposite of “why not return home” was true for them.

The main themes from the discussion for people not wanting to return home were as follows (in no particular order of importance):

  • Reverse Culture Shock – some people have been away from Zimbabwe for such a long time and have become used to living wherever they are living. They feel as if they would not be able to adjust to life at home if they were to return.
  • Family – some have no family to return to and because of that don’t feel like they have any links with Zimbabwe and nothing to go back to.
  • Political – the political instability is a deterrent and there are many who may face or feel that they may face political persecution.
  • Difference of opinion within families – husbands and wives may have differing views were one partner would like nothing more than to return home whilst the other is of the opposite view. Without any sort of resolution, this leaves a number of families “stuck” with out decision and still in the Diaspora.
  • Employment – a high unemployment rate and a perceived lack of opportunity leaves Diasporans with the notion that there is no point in going back home if they are not going to be able to find a way of making a living.
  • Dual Citizenship – many Zimbabweans have been living in their new homes away from home for so long that they have become Citizens of that particular nation. With the current state of the Dual Citizenship debate, they feel that it is better to stay away from home until there is some sort of positive resolve on the debate.

After listening to what listeners had to say about the topic of returning home, the conversation shifted to what could have been seen as an attack on people who felt that it is not yet time for them to move back. For example, something along the following lines was mentioned, “they were born in and grew up in Zimbabwe and one day got on a plane and moved to the UK, US, Australia or wherever they ended up. They were not used to life over there and had to adjust. Why cant they get to used to living in Zimbabwe again, it is after all their home?”

Yes, this could be the basis of an argument but there (for the example above) is the issue of reverse culture shock which is very real and something that some people will have to deal with. For most of the other reasons listed above, they present real issues that the people facing them have to contend with and could bring about a certain degree of stress.

One question is, was that sort of a rebuttal called for? There is bound to be a world of individuals who would have similar things to say about those who do not want to return home.

The thing is, Zimbabweans who are not ready to return home at the moment and some who have sworn to never return have made that decision. Some of those reasons may be legitimate, some of them may seem ridiculous but, as already mentioned above, this is a decision that someone has made for their life or their families lives and it should be respected.

Yes, we can offer our opinions on their decisions but these opinions should be put forward in a non-critical tone because no-one has the right to judge people and/or their decisions. If anything, opinions should be put forward in a way that opens the door to further discussion on ways of breaking down the barriers to returning home and making the idea a possible reality.

What are your thoughts on the Zimbabwean Diaspora who are not yet ready to return home and is there anything that can be done to facilitate their return home?

Leave your comments below!

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2 Responses to Why Are Diasporans Not Returning Home?

  1. Legal Eagle March 14, 2013 at 1:57 am #

    To add to the point of difference of opinions within families: there are some who have met partners from other parts of the world and indeed from the country in which they reside and it seems unfair to expect your partner to leave their home country for yours.

    culture shock is also quite noticeable to children born in the diaspora. It may well be considered unfair on the child to uproot them for another country especially if they are still young.

    Others do not live with their children because of say divorce and therefore choose to remain in that country simply to be nearer to their children.

    * This is an interesting and good discussion to have really and might I add that on a more personal note – my reason for being reluctant to return is that there are not many employment opportunities in Zimbabwe and I am especially concerned by the lack of the rule of law. I have witnessed at first hand the police beating a suspect up on the street. The operative word there being ‘suspect’. That means before he was proven guilty. And yet he was punished. That for me is a big put off because it shows that the country is still far from following due process – a thing afforded to many if not all of these countries we have chosen to take refuge.

  2. Miss Kudz March 24, 2014 at 5:25 am #

    Are returnees supposed to just adjust to the ‘small house’ and ‘political connections’ culture that exists in Zimbabwe simply because they managed to adjust to life in the diaspora? For a lot of returnees it’s hard to return to no running water and frequent power cuts simply because they have lived in a Zimbabwe with functioning public services.

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