“The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions,” she said, “but nothing changed in my life, except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”
I think also that many black immigrants don’t realize that they’re able to be here and do what they’re doing because of the sacrifices of African-Americans. They don’t know the history. I didn’t when I came. An African-American man called me “sister” once, and I was like ‘No, no, no, I’m not your sister, I’m not doing that.’ It took about a year of reading, learning, watching, for me to really come around and realize that there’s a context— you know, I read African-American history and I’m just amazed at how recent some of the things that happened were. I’m not talking about slavery, I’m talking about 40 years ago. But when immigrants come here they absorb stories that have no context and no history. So it’s ‘oh, black Americans are very lazy. They all live in the inner city because, you know, they don’t want to work hard.’ Sometimes you’re in a gathering of immigrants, and some of the talk can sound like you’re in Alabama in 1965.
On ‘them’ (Zimbabweans in the diaspora) versus ‘us’ (Zimbabweans in Zimbabwe)
I think there is a little bit – maybe too much – focus on why, who, what, where and when. Zimbos are Zimbos! We should support each other! It doesn’t matter if that person is in the North Pole; maybe they are in the North Pole because they need to learn some skills that are eventually going to be really important in Zimbabwe, and are going to make a difference locally.
If your blood is African and you are engaging with Africa, you are just as African as the person who might be born and living and breathing in Africa but all they do is consume goods and music from the USA.
So who is more African?
Is it the person who doesn’t even know what their totem is, or refuses to speak Shona yet they were born here? I am not here to say, “Oh, you’re not African enough,” to anyone. I just feel that as long as you know where you are from, the only real thing you can show is your commitment to your people.