Zimbabwe is and will remain by far my favourite destination. First of all, it is my birthplace, and I know first-hand what a beautiful country it is. And in this blog, I will share what it is like to go to Zimbabwe.
I haven't been to my homeland, Zimbabwe, in four years. Had it not been for the pandemic, it would have been two years, for I had to cancel my trip at the last minute in March 2020. When the lockdown ended, I chose to go somewhere else instead (blog on that soon). So this is the longest time I have stayed without visiting home, and I can tell you that nostalgia can sometimes be cruel.
The current situation
From what my family, and those who have visited Zimbabwe recently tell me, and drawing from what I learn through the media, things are constantly changing in Zimbabwe. Life is a mixture of hope, despair, sadness, wonderment, and joy.
Perhaps living in the diaspora makes me least qualified to talk about the hardships people face on the ground and daily. However, I can give an account of how it feels to go to Zimbabwe because there are things about Zimbabwe that never change.
First things first
Born in a small town called Chinhoyi, I was raised in a house on a knoll overlooking the market and surrounding locations. So, whenever I write or talk about the experience of going back home, I like to reminisce through the lens of this town. The reason is that it is in this town that I obtained and experienced most of my 'firsts' - my school, crush and so on.
From the moment I get off the plane and step onto Harare's soil, the first thing I do is fret about the Wi-Fi - I have to let those who need to know that I have arrived. Once that business is taken care of, I breathe a sigh of relief and start ruminating over how I will spend my holiday.
I am organised, for the most part. When I visit countries in other parts of the world, Trip Advisor is my best friend. But I have since realised that planning my activities when I go to Zimbabwe is a futile attempt. My planning is pointless not because the plan never works but because something about Africa makes me want to ditch those plans and go with the flow. Sticking to a schedule restricts me and causes me to miss out on creating many beautiful memories.
Ditching my plans
For example, whenever I visit, I tell myself I will not move from house to house, greeting the neighbours, relatives, friends, their cats, and dogs, at least not as soon as I arrive. So instead, I promise to relax, perhaps give them a chance to come to me since I'm the visitor who has come to unwind and indulge in every possible way.
Alas, I always seem to break this resolution. The temptation to go knocking on doors is hard for me to resist. Africa makes it hard for one to sit still. You got to see that aunt you haven't seen in years or that friendly shopkeeper who used to put extra sweets in your bag during your primary school years.
The reception and the people's warmth make it hard for me to lie low, let alone stick to a schedule - there's always something to do and places to go.
When I am in Zimbabwe, I delight in the little things, such as plucking out a ripe mango from a tree and eating it at my leisure, basking in the sunshine, and just being able to stand and stare.
I love the Zimbabwean markets, especially during December, the rainy season. Not only do I get to bask in the soothing sound of rain as it splatters on the roof when I am in my bed at night, but it is also when I find my trips to the market the most rewarding.
The markets in my hometown are always buzzing with excitement - from the sweet-talking vendor who charms their way into your purse to the animated one, yelling and painting the marketplace with their antics, hoping the entertainment they provide is enough to lure you towards their merchandise. Some will swear by their ancestors' power, for without their guidance, you would not have come to their stall. And lastly, my favourite of them all - the one whose words pull at your heartstrings by letting you know their kids will not go to school if they cannot raise the fees through your contribution to their enterprise. The people of Zimbabwe do what they need to do to survive.
I mean, come on, you've got to love Africa and her resilience.
The Rural Home
For some, including myself, you cannot go home and not visit the rural areas, if only for a day. It is almost a ritual. You see, in Zimbabwe, you cannot live in the city/town and not have a rural home. Having a village to go to means you know your roots. It separates the wise from the foolish. That's just how it is.
I'm fortunate that my grandfather only lives half an hour from my hometown, so a day trip is possible. When I go there, grandfather delights in showing me around. As we explore the fields, the new buildings in the neighbourhood, the graveyard, the borehole and the cattle kraal, he points out what's working and what's not. Admiring granddad's crops
For me, the African culture and the value of the extended family make me appreciate home. There, I can play the role of the doting aunt, sister and granddaughter. I also enjoy being spoiled as that 'daughter, granddaughter, aunt, niece' from overseas, for I always get the best dinner plates, seats in the house, and everything.
And I get to greet strangers in the street and stand on the sidewalk to engage in small talk. Sometimes, discuss critical topics too.
Going back to the town where I was born and raised always makes my heart sing with joy. The experience makes me glow and ignites a deep longing - a yearning for my childhood days, days when my parents were still alive. Days when life was as it should be. Beautiful. Uncomplicated. Fun. And predictable.
At the sleeping pool
Even though I have been there a dozen times, I always learn something new whenever I visit the Chinhoyi Caves (Chirorodziva caves). There is always a new tour guide to take you through the monument, but the story and how it is told never changes.
In every tour guide, I always see a glint of pride in their eyes when they recount the legend of the Chirorodziva Caves. Of course, this is a story I have heard many times, but hearing it told by a different person and with such passion and conviction always installs in me some degree of novelty to my understanding of the sleeping pool and feeling about the dark cave.
Walking into the cave
I am forever telling my children about our African culture. I wish to instil in them the values of our tradition. The thought of them not knowing what I grew up knowing terrifies me. I want them to develop and enshrine within their souls the same pride I have as an African. I want to inspire them with the stories of my childhood.
Indeed, things change. People grow old and die, some mature and leave for greener pastures, infrastructure is built, and some are destroyed. But what remains constant in Zimbabwe is how people still treasure life's little pleasures - sitting around the fireplace, coming together for weddings and funerals.
Despite the persistent challenges Zimbabweans face, the people remain resilient and hopeful of a better day on the horizon. The Zimbabwean people have maintained their traditional values, witnessed through their marriage ceremonies, funerals and the spirit in which they rise to the occasion for their family, friends and neighbours.
And one last thing: the sun always rises and is seen and felt regardless of the season.
Before you go, please leave your thoughts in the comments section. If you're from Zimbabwe or have been to Zimbabwe or Africa, please share your experience 😊
Going somewhere nice?
For travelling tips and benefits, watch this video.