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Struggles for Diaspora kids

02 Nov 2017 at 19:50hrs | Views
Children who are born from parents who are immigrants are normally called third culture generation. They live a particularly interesting life growing up abroad in a culture different to that of their parents. This experience is often very difficult to explain to those who haven't been in this situation. The children swim in a very different social pool and are completely different from their parents.  These children are not Zimbabwean; going to Zimbabwe with them shocks them.

They are not welcome even at the airport. They are asked to pay fifty pounds for a visa to visit their father's land. They always ask in awe and say how you can pay to enter into your own country. With the dual citizenship clouded in serious confusion and its administration is at best described as dog's breakfast, the children who visit the land of their fathers feel so much distant from the country.

The children do not feel reunited with their relatives as they consider them as the relatives of their parents and not theirs. The welcome they get from aunties and uncles is somehow alienating. Kumbirai, a sixteen-year-old said,"I felt lost, everybody called me Mu British and others called me Mukaradhi" she went on to say she felt lost and the word coloured was so insulting to her. In trying to learn Shona or Ndebele all the relatives were speaking to her in English, she left Zimbabwe without learning a single word in vernacular except "ndipoo mari"

Thanks to their upbringing, they find that meeting other international kids - and joining expat networks like InterNations - feels like reuniting with long-lost friends. They realise that they are not alone and that they, too, have to settle for the conditions surrounding them.

In England they always get questions like where are you from. They get the same question in Zimbabwe where they think that they are home. This is the most nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing question and usually requires an in-depth explanation of their life story, which is exhausting if their parents are from Zimbabwe and they are living in a different country.

Makanaka a seventeen year old said "The concept of home doesn't mean the same thing, and even filling out your home address on official documents makes you uneasy. Having spent many years outside of your home culture and not quite fitting into your host culture, you end up feeling that you fit in nowhere and everywhere."

These children have accent issues. They are spoken to in a different accent at home and at school. Those who listen to someone's accent in order to figure out where they're from will definitely struggle after meeting a third culture kid. At home, they are subjected to African movies and indeed with friends they prefer American movies and when alone they watch British dramas and Britain has its own accent troubles. Some speak Jodie some Scottish and some speak London English and here comes this child with all sorts of accents.

Given that they have lived in a few countries. They probably speak at least two languages fluently and end up mixing them together without noticing. However, that does not necessarily mean they speak much of the language of the countries they lived in. When in Zimbabwe they will, of course, know a few greetings and some directions to ask taxi drivers, but they have grown accustomed to visiting a country where they can't understand everything that's being said around them.

Growing up with their immediate family, far from the rest of relations, Christmas and summer holidays are usually spent together on trips visiting the latter. Now with family spread between two or three countries and friends on almost every continent, it is almost impossible to decide what to do and who to see. This then creates a new generation which finds it difficult to link as relatives.

In this situation, these children put more importance on their friends rather than relatives. It's fair to say that third culture kids really know the meaning of friendship, after all; friendships that survive distance mean friends for life.

The children end up having a long-distance relationship with family as they are most likely living in another country, and they only get to see them once or twice a year; thank goodness for WhatsApp.

Growing up abroad, our children don't realise that the concept of living in a country other than where your parents are from is actually quite peculiar. They eventually get used to the ridiculous comments and questions from those ignorant of life abroad. Questions like: "So you grew up in Africa, did you ride an elephant to school?", "Do they speak African in Africa "Your English is really good considering you grew up in Africa!" Yes, of course, it is, I'm British.

After living abroad and being exposed to the diversity of cultures, people and rich history, it is nearly impossible to not continue travelling. Many find it hard to comprehend those who chose to stay in one place; diaspora children just don't understand what it's like to grow up in your home town, continue to live there and never have experienced life somewhere else. These children now crave adventure and have a completely different culture with that of their parents.

Matidaishe an eight-year-old said, "Your people are so horrible, they never believe what you tell them, When you get asked about a typical day at home, you may be unsure whether you should be honest or make something up that they can relate to. Spending your days at the pool, eating out every weekend, and travelling to new countries may not be the answer they're expecting. Going to France for your birthday is viewed as a lie, how you grew up with them" Diaspora Children can be wary of sharing certain things about their life abroad for fear of coming across as a snob.

Diaspora Children are being created into a very different culture where relations do not matter anymore. Where they tolerate friends more than relatives as they have grown to trust friends. 

vazet2000@yahoo.co.uk


Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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