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A year living abroad is sufficient to phase out memories of struggle and privations from one’s homeland, and mine is Zimbabwe. Fond memories of home steadily replace all else, evoking that sensation of homesickness. Time and again I find myself preparing a small pot of sadza (polenta) and vegetables with sodden or fried meat, a staple dish from home now turned into my comfort food – although a once detested meal when I was a child.

Like many Zimbabweans, I grew up on sadza and porridge, except under special circumstances where rice and chicken, or fish and chips were served. These occasional dishes were so special such that, at school, when asked for compositions or essays on favourite food, I would write about rice and chicken… poetically. It was a real delicacy because it was not as affordable as it is nowadays. I was not exposed to pizza, or hamburgers nor mac and cheese, or the sort. Hence, as many Zimbabweans can relate, once you move out for college or to start to earn, it is inevitable to opt out of having sadza daily, if any more at all.

Amidst these affectionate memories I hold ever so dearly, and my increased appreciation of our staples and cultural foods like boiled peanuts, groundnuts, grains, green leaves such as kale, toasted white maize seeds; just to mention a few; there are certain things about my homeland which had utterly elapsed from remembrance, that I regretfully despise and they are as follows:

CORRUPTION

Several problems faced in my country emanate from corruption. Crookedness runs so deep, it is not just on a governmental level but, rooted even in professional and social degrees. Whether one has a right to something is sometimes hardly of relevance. For example, to have a driving licence or passport, one will find themselves paying an added double or triple of the price to have it issued. It is as if giving a private salary, as people in general expect you to pay them for the job which they are employed to do otherwise a sort of reluctance to deliver is what will ensue. Though confessing to be fearful of and worshippers of The Almighty Creator, there is no hesitancy to ask and accept a bribe! Therefore, it appears foolhardy to rely on the justice of the system, or justice in general.

When I went back home, I decided to hire a car from a private person to avoid spending much as I had to be with and attend to my ailing mother. So, I wanted to spend as little as possible on car hire. I had a phone call with one who was proposing his car for hire and, he quoted the fee at a specific amount per day  with no extra or hidden costs. Following the conversation, we agreed to meet for viewing and hiring. Upon agreeing to lease the car, which hardly had any fuel in it by the way, the quotation suddenly increased in total by 200%! So much for ‘no hidden costs, no extra charges’.  Had he made a prior disclosure, I would have foregone to meet with him, as that was the very reason I chose not to hire from a company. This he did because, since I was coming from “overseas”, he therefore had to squeeze as much money as possible. Of course, I refused to succumb, but how disappointing the conduct.

On the day of the hand over to return the vehicle, I met with the owner (the one I came into contact first was his business partner) and he was kind enough to drive me to the airport. While en route, in the essence of camaraderie, he related to me the successes and struggles in the car hire business. It turns out that his partner, who was also the middleman between him and a potential client, was swindling him of the profits. For every $100.00 made, the owner of the vehicle would receive $40.00, regardless of his ownership and being the one to incur all expenses required in the vehicle’s maintenance. How devastatingly devious and greedy.

Now, it would be ignorant to say that corruption is not a worldwide epidemic. Indeed, it is, and we are never to condone it. When corruption runs rampant from the government to the lay man on the street, it blossoms into an ominous state which strips nations off of integrity and justice, and often leading to more crime and lawlessness.

RELUCTANCE OF PEOPLE IN GENERAL TO HONOUR THEIR WORD

Prior to relocation, I scarcely understood the disappointment of one not meeting one’s word. I suppose it is a part of our lifestyle blooming into culture. Certainly, I have come across friends, family, employers, workmates who flaked out on their word, however, I was sort of used to it. There is no battling against it because at every turn it is a norm. A meagre word, like that of a friend, to visit, to call, or help, will hardly get honoured timeously, if at all.

I was introduced to a certain individual who was a supplier of a certain product I sought to purchase. That individual’s asking price was stupendous, 300% more than the asking price on the market. However, because the recommendation was coming from a trusted old friend, I went against my better judgement to get in business with this individual. The product was supposed to be delivered within two working days. Nonetheless, a fortnight passed, extending into a month before delivery. During which time the individual evaded my phone calls, messages and neglected to update on anything whatsoever. The sheer lack of transparency is astounding! What is worse? – that the so-called ‘trusted friend’ began to ignore me altogether after being informed of the disappointment. As long as there is an absence of benefit, or even if there is but if the benefit has already been spent, many generally fail to keep their word. It would seem sometimes a task so impossible as having a camel fit through a needle.

Reminiscing, I realise how I could have practiced the same as well. Now, after living abroad in foreign lands I have learnt how promptness and keeping my word is synonymous to integrity and success, perhaps because of the social circles I find myself in or simply placing good morals in exercise.  A yes means yes and no means no. None of the chicanery and superfluous excuses. This, I find to be most admirable, absolutely dignified, a quality only true ladies and gentlemen can harbour.

GREED AND COVETOUSNESS

Where corruption is rooted, greed and covetousness abound! It is no secret what occurred in my country politically, where the minority had their farms coveted by those in power. More so, how precious minerals and the profits thereof where avidly spent amongst the top few for personal improvement. As written above, the epidemic is deep entrenched and persists even to a simple homestead where one man will end the life of another over a mobile phone, or one woman would knowingly destroy another’s family over a man or a house. Astonishingly, some condone the latter behaviour, but this is blatant covetousness. For greed, countless atrocities are committed.

While this is certainly a worldwide sickness, more prevalent in others and subtle in some; nevertheless, unacceptable in all cases because, for these reasons, the honest wealthy are made poor, and the government breaks in and robs even from the poor, then calamity befalls the whole nation.

WORKING HARD, GIVING YOUR BEST BUT ONLY FOR A PROMISE OF PAY

While I was visiting, I met my former employer, an attorney. Seeing him again took me on a hindsight to the dreadful working month ends where I was left with an expectation of a salary that hardly ever got credited in my account in full, if at all; leading me to live in debt and utter disappointment. This was not the only firm that left me with a promise to pay. Once, I worked at one which I could not be bothered to list on my resume, that left me down and under. Through the kindness of The Almighty One I lived with a family that took me in as their own and understood my plight. It was after I quit my job in that firm and stayed at home to clean the household that I received a call in which I was offered better employ in a foreign owned organisation, that my financial circumstances improved a bit. I know many Zimbabweans can relate. Some have their own testimonies, while others remain stuck in the rut going to work daily, giving their best, showing up for the company’s success, yet living in debt; a lifestyle attained not through overspending or indulging in luxurious houses and cars or maxing out their debit cards. Rather, through working under the employ of an organisation or company or one who is not bothered about dealing justly and honouring their end of the contract. Consequently, employees lend themselves in a streak of spending borrowed money for rent, bills and food. Alternatively, they take loans which they can barely payoff.

The whole world lies in wickedness, there is not much one can do but to be as virtuous, full of integrity, upright in all dealings and loving to our neighbour as we love ourselves. By implication one will neither steal, nor deal treacherously, nor lie or falsely witness against another, nor practice greed and covetousness, nor take away the life of his fellow.

To whom it may concern, you and I cannot change the deep-seated corrupt system of the world, but we can and must simply endeavour to walk in uprightness and brotherly love.

 

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