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The fate of the Zimbabweans in Kuwait

25 May 2016 at 07:16hrs | Views
The predicament of some Zimbabwean women who are reportedly stranded in Kuwait is a very unfortunate result of this country's sanctions-induced poor socio – economic condition.

They are said to have gone to Kuwait in response to some advertisements by some persons or media that have not been identified for jobs as either domestic employees or waitresses in some restaurants or hotels.

The women took up the offers out of obviously either desperation or an adventurous urge or both.

An element of ignorance about Kuwait's socio – economic and cultural conditions played a role in their decisions to go to that distant Middle Eastern country.

Kuwait is primarily an Arabic, Moslemic, crude oil – producing nation.

The major language spoken there is Arabic; the only religion practised is Islam, a religion that is much more restrictive and gender – discriminatory than Christianity, Zimbabwe's socio – cultural basis.

That country is known for its crude oil wealth.

Its indigenous people rely on foreign domestic employees for virtually every household and family chore, from the making of beds to the scrubbing of toilets.

A popular joke in the pubs of Lebanon's capital, Beirut, in the early and mid – 1960s was that Kuwaitis were so rich that they could afford to wear a new pant every day, 365 days a year!

Most of that country's domestic workers are Eritrians, Somalis, Ethiopians, Sudanese, Egyptians, Lebanese, Syrians, Yemenis, Pakistanis, Afghanistanis, a few Ugandans, Tanzanians and Kenyans.

There is also a large group of South Sudanese and various West Africans, especially Nigerians, Nigeriens, Gambians, Sierra Leonese, Malians, Chadians and Central African Republicans.

The overwhelming majority of the people employed in menial jobs in Kuwait are foreigners but Moslems who are quite at home with the country's social life.

A few foreign people from either the Christian world or from Hindu Indian provinces or from Japan find Kuwait's social life most boring, and occasionally fly across the Red Sea to spend a few days in Cairo or Alexandria where there are numerous holiday resorts roaring with pulsating night club life throughout the summer season.

Kuwaiti social life is less liberal than those of other religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Christianity and the Baha'i Ulla.

Most, if not all, Moslemic nations attach high religious and economic value to virginity.

In some regions, such as Upper Egypt a girl who is found to have had sexual intercourse before she is married may be killed and by her own brother whom she would have deeply shamed according to custom and tradition.

Because of traditions and customs such as that mentioned, foreign women employees, especially black domestic ones, may be turned into sexual slaves for teenage sons and middle aged males of the employing family.

That may inevitably lead to unwanted pregnancies and illegal abortions, resulting in tragic deaths.

Such a situation can also spawn transmittable sexual diseases which can be very easily taken back to the victimised women's countries of origin.

Consequences of cases of that kind are likely to be far reaching in social as well as economic terms for the victims and their respective governments.

In addition to the above factor, the Arabic language is very remote from any tongue spoken by most Zimbabweans.

Even the culture is so foreign to Zimbabweans that anyone wishing to work in Kuwait will necessarily have to be oriented culturally before starting to work as a domestic servant or waitress in that country.

Unlike in Egypt where a pidgin type of Arabic called Cairese is commonly used between non – Arabic foreigners and indigenous Egyptians, in Kuwait, there is no such means of communication.

Life can be every miserable in such a social and cultural environment.

Zimbabweans should seek advice from informed or knowledgeable people first before they fall for some of the advertisement on jobs, scholarships, marriages and/ or medical treatment abroad.

Some of the advertisements do not make any common sense.

An advertisement for hundreds of waitresses in Kuwait should make an informed reader wonder why a non – tourist country such as Kuwait should require such a large number of waitresses.

If it was Egypt, one could take the advertisement seriously because of that country's viable hotel and tourism industry.  But even that fact could not easily make an informed person quickly fall for such a piece of trickery.

Why? Because employers do not usually seek workers in countries that are several thousands of kilometres away.

High expenses in transporting such employees for menial jobs does not justify the recruitment campaign.

A common consideration we should make about menial jobs is that there are usually done by local or indigenous people.

But for professional positions, including, nursing, foreigners may be required. However, the knowledge of the local or national language or language is a decisive requisite.

Those women who fell for whatever advertisement could have saved themselves a lot of trouble had they thought seriously about the matter before taking up the unfortunate job offers.

They could have also helped themselves by going to the Foreign Affairs Ministry to acquaint appropriate officials about the fact that they were due to leave for Kuwait to take up jobs they had seen in some advertisements.

That should, in fact, be made compulsory for every Zimbabwean who is leaving the country for a job they aspire to take abroad.

It could give them security, and Foreign Affairs information about the whereabouts of at least some Zimbabweans abroad.

Meanwhile, it is most advisable for anyone who intends to go to a foreign country for whatever purpose to research about the country's social economic, political and cultural practices so as to have some idea about that country's life before leaving for it.

It can be a traumatic experience to leave for any foreign country with high hopes only to find on arrival that the people of that land are short of water to such an extent that they bathe at most once monthly!

A story used to be told about a missionary who left England for one of the South Pacific Ocean islands in the 19th Century, and was received by his host, a chief of one of the indigenous tribes of the island.

A day after his arrival he was told that the chief would entertain him to a state lunch that evening, and that the main dish was to be of human flesh.

The flesh was to be of a war captive who would be slaughtered by the chief at a ritual in the missionary's presence.

The missionary was utterly flabbergasted, and after a great deal of pleading with the chief, it was agreed that the missionary would replace the war captive with a wild boar he would shoot in the marshes before noon.

The war captive would be freed at the spot where the wild boar was shot.

The missionary had not been aware that these South Pacific Ocean islanders were cannibals.

That experience may be rather extreme, but with Zimbabwe now seeking succour in literally every corner of the world, it is advisable for them to research and to leave a record with Foreign Affairs about their destinations.

The writer, Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu, is a retired, Bulawayo – based journalist. He can be contacted on cell 0734 328 136 or through email.

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