I am a Zimbabwean. I am guilty of some of the things I am going to list here and I hate that I am like that sometimes. Taking a step back from the way we do things in Zim has given me some perspective on a few issues. This of course doesn’t mean every Zimbabwean is guilty of these things. And I am not suggesting that we just stop being us and do things like they do in other countries but learning a thing or two from other people who do it well can be a good thing. Here are things that I absolutely cannot stand that we, Zimbabweans, do;
- We cannot mind our own business. Let me start by telling a true story. One day I woke up unwell and my brother and friend drove me to a pharmacy at Marimba shopping center in Belvedere, Harare. I went in my pajamas and stayed in the car, My brother got out to go into the pharmacy and my friend stayed with me. There was a car parked next to us and in there was a woman who kept staring at us with a look of disgust. We tried to ignore it until my friend couldn’t take it anymore and asked her why she was staring and she was actually propping her neck to take a good look at me. Then she started to scold me because I was out in public in my pajamas. How this affected her, I still don’t understand but she got really mad. I even had a robe over my pajamas and they were not the revealing kind anyway. But I was in a car! Even if I was walking about in them whose business was it except mine? You walk in the streets of Harare with a weird hairstyle, people will not only stare but they will talk “loudly” about you so you feel as uncomfortable as you possibly can. I am deliberately avoiding giving an example of someone wearing a mini-skirt because that’s a post for another day. So how does someone’s bad hairdo affect you? Some people will go out of their way to make someone uncomfortable because they are speaking in English (because you are trying to be a coconut (black on the outside white on the inside, in Zim they are called “salads”). How does someone speaking in English bother you? I went to a bar last weekend and there was a lady there, hippie looking, wearing a black dress and an apron! She wasn’t working, just a patron who thought it was a cool look. She was doing her thing on the dance floor without a care in the world, a guy there was wearing a backless onesy, again not a care. No one stared or cared. Maybe me because my Zimbabweaness takes over at times. BUT people of my country will not let that go. And it’s everyone, men and women alike who make sure they let you know that you are not looking as good as they want you to . Why can’t I walk barefoot in the CBD if I want? What business is it of yours if I decide not to comb my hair or iron my clothes? Human beings everywhere will always have opinions about odd looking stuff and sometimes giving someone a second look is natural but going out of your way to make that person know your opinion is unnecessary, really.
- We have zero pride in our nationality. Living in South Africa, I have seen a lot of Zimbabweans who do everything they can to hide the fact that they are Zimbabwean. I hear them speaking with some weird accents so that they cannot be identified as Zimbabweans. Why do you think you look better speaking with a Nigerian accent? It’s a good accent, for Nigerians, not you. Those who live in Cape Town mimic the Cape Town “coloured” accent! WHY, pray tell!? I hear some Zimbabweans in South Africa pronouncing three as “tree” or film as “filim” because they hear some South Africans pronounce those words that way. We taught you to say “three” and “film” properly back home, what is the matter with you? Some people have even changed the way they spell their names, Kudzi is now Qudzie. I know a guy called Tonderai who will hate you enough to kill you if you call him Tonderai or Tonde, he is now Tony. And what about proud moms of children who cannot speak Shona or Ndebele? I understand that we want our kids to speak English well because it’s the language they will learn everything in and if you live outside Zimbabwe they need to learn more English than Shona/Ndebele. BUT it’s the pride that little Trey pronounces Shona words wrong or cannot speak it well that gets to me. You would rather teach your child Spanish as a second language even though you don’t live in a Spanish speaking country. Why not teach them a Zimbabwean language as a second child so they can be able to speak to everyone when they visit Zim? Many parents find it absolutely cute when their kids express ignorance about some Zimbabwean facts. I especially hate it when Zimbabweans join people from other countries to say crap about our country. Yes I do get there is a lot that can be said about Zim but don’t be the one to actively bash our country and encourage people to exaggerate and speak out of ignorance and you fuel that discussion! I see many Zimbabweans wearing tops with the American flag but they don’t have anything Zimbabwean at all in their home. If they see a small flag that they can just keep to remember our country it goes to the trash can immediately. Guess what, no American is wearing our flag, stop wearing theirs!
- We think quiet and shy = well behaved and morally upright. For this I will tell a story again. I was on a bus that was travelling from Johannesburg to Zimbabwe. I had never heard of the bus company until that day but because the bus that I had booked was delayed by eight hours, they suggested that we go into this bus called High Tech. We got on the bus and it took 3 hours to leave the bus station. When we finally left it just went about 2 kilometers and then stopped where there were people waiting for it. They had double booked! So these people were mad, they came in trying to displace us. There was chaos for about 2 hours and then we left that spot and drove for about 10 minutes and we were parked at a petrol station and we didn’t go anywhere for about 4 hours. There were no announcement or apologies. So it had been in the CBD 9 hours and no one told us why. I got off to ask the drivers who were standing outside and they dismissed me rudely. When I got back to the bus they realised that they had to say something and at that point I started to voice my opinions. I could not believe it when women who were on the bus said I had to let the men on the bus talk!!!!!! Ha? We all paid the same fare and I had every right to speak. So they all agreed that I was probably loose and a headache to my family. I don’t know what the rationale behind the theory that quiet girls are well-behaved but I don’t subscribe to it. The same principle is used for new daughters-in-law when they visit their husband’s family especially the first few times. Of course you have to understand that certain times are quiet times or it’s not your turn to talk and all of that but generally you should be allowed to say what’s on your mind without fear of being judged. And also let’s not forget, still waters run deep. Be careful of people who are quietly plotting your murder. At least with a person who talks you always know where you stand with them or what they are thinking.
- We think women who drink, smoke and/or go to a bar/nightclub are sluts. When I grew up there were a couple of girls that we all “knew” were loose. We had never seen these girls sleeping around with a million men but we knew that were frequently seen at some night clubs in town. Now that I have had a chance to think about it, I know many decent women who drink, smoke and frequent night clubs, hell I drink, smoke hubbly bubbly on rare occasions and love clubbing. I am definitely not loose. And I now know that a nightclub is not a place where every woman goes and keeps their legs open all night long. No. We dance, drink, laugh and go home. Anybody who does anything else does so not because they are in the club but because it’s who they are. In fact Zimbabweans are quick to call women whores for a lot of things, she wears short skirt = whore, she is opinionated = whore, she twerks = whore, she does things we don’t understand = whore….
These are the things that drive me mad about my people. In spite of all that, I am happy I am Zimbabwean and wouldn’t change it.
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