With the economic meltdown, so many Zimbabweans have flocked to South Africa and other countries for better living conditions. While a few have been disappointed, the majority have realised their dreams, buying cars, techno gadgets, furniture or even clothes. For a person who hardly had anything other than the clothes on his back at home and now be able to walk into any store and buy whatever the heart desires, it is truly a dream come true.
They damn well must feel this good because they have work so hard, some working for more than eight-twelve hours/six days a week. Education does not really count here as even university graduates can find themselves doing menial jobs next to an uneducated person because they do not have the right documents to acquire the jobs that they have trained and qualified to do.
Success is then characterised by how many goods you send via “courier” often by a guy who has worked equally hard to acquire a truck so that he can ferry the goods of fellow countrymen back home at a price. Though quite risky as the courier is unregistered and often results in good being lost, damaged or stolen in transit it is still the most favoured method of transportation.
Another measure of success is owning a car, no matter what shape or condition it is. From a person who maybe only travelled several times in a bus before, owning a car is a huge step, often worthy of respect from peers and family.
One can also command respect by having the latest smartphones or techno gadget like iPads, notebooks or even just a desktop pc.
The biggest success is being able to buy a plot back home and building even just one room. This is understandably a success measure, because from the getting the plot to building a room, everything is obtained using cash up front. So it means working long hours so that you can support your family wherever they are and still be able to save money to purchase building requirements.
When it comes to children, if you put your child in an English speaking school or preschool, then you are on top of your league. Though most criticize English speaking peers, alleging that they are trying to be too white, one gets a kick when their child wows crowds by speaking through the nose, as they call it. Then they claim that it’s the school’s fault because the school teaches the kids to be like that.
For women, if you can wear heels with stockings, boots and coats in winter, switch hair styles frequently, then you are making it big. Having your nails done even if you work as a domestic is a sure sign of success. In the home you can’t miss having a fridge, microwave oven, plasma TV and a room divider, those top the must have in the home. If you can add satellite TV then you are surely successful.
All this comes through working extremely hard in the diaspora at the expense of raising your kids. They are raised by extended family back home in Zimbabwe, sometimes it can take years before one can visit, for others who can afford, they can do one or more visits per year to see the kids. I guess the kids are only too happy to see their parents when they visit or send goods and money every month, no matter the circumstances or conditions the children live in. It is a choice the parent makes in the name of success.