My wife and I had some friends from Botswana over for dinner this weekend. Before long, we were going on and on about how wonderful life back home is. Nostalgia is a funny thing. It allows you to break free from reality just long enough for you to protect your heart and memory.
Anyway, our guests left in the early hours of the morning but the thoughts of home stayed with me. I had really good times. The thing I miss the most is the feeling of belonging. I could walk down a street and be totally random and anonymous. Having said that, I was always comfortable in the fact that I belonged there, connected to my country.
And then there was the fact that Zimbabwe is still a very communal place. Most people are more than just individuals. You almost always belong to something bigger than yourself. There’s your family, then their family then your local community. I had two local communities, work and church.
My workmates weren’t just people I worked with either. Although I was a doctor, there was more than one nurse that didn’t realise that I wasn’t their son. But I didn’t complain too often because you can’t ever have too many mums. When I was broke and hungry, my work mates fed and supported me. When I got married, I had workmates support me financially and emotionally.
I miss the bunch of clowns at UBH who called themselves doctors. If there has ever been a group of unsung heroes it is the staff at that hospital. Daily they put themselves at risk, caring for and treating people with HIV. Paid next to nothing, literally, working under trying circumstances yet doing the best job possible with an incredible sense of humour.
Then there was the church crew. Throughout college I had people from church pray for me, cry with me, help me with money, clothe and feed me. When in the space of a couple of years my mother lost her mother, sister and niece, her church community helped carry her emotionally and practically.
I don’t so much miss the place as I do the people. The place has record braking inflation, food, water and cash shortages, and all sorts of other issues. But it is home in a way that you could only understand had you experienced it. I really miss home.