Tanzikwa Guranungo Correspondent
The African Union (AU) has defined the African Diaspora as “people of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union”. Its constitutive act declares that it shall “invite and encourage the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of our continent, in the building of the African Union”.
This declaration by the AU governments illustrates the belief that the Diaspora does have a role in building up the African continent and that it is a part and parcel of the African community. As the African Union definition illustrates, one is only considered to be part of the African Diaspora if one is willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union.
It can therefore be deduced that for one to be considered a part of Zimbabwean Diaspora, one must be willing to contribute to the development of Zimbabwe and national building process of Zimbabwe. One ceases to be part of the Zimbabwean Diaspora if this interest and desire to contribute to Zimbabwe’s development is lost.
So first and foremost, the Zimbabwean youth in the Diaspora should have willingness to contribute to the country. Many of our youths tend to forget where they came from, and they may not even want to be associated with Zimbabwe once they are in foreign lands. Even if one does not intend to return to Zimbabwe, we should never forget our heritage and our identity as Zimbabweans. Even Americans, who migrated from Ireland or Italy many centuries ago, still proudly retain and cherish their heritage even though they are not citizens of their countries of origin anymore.
Another important function of Zimbabwean youth in Diaspora is to uphold the image and reputation of the country. People will judge the country by what they see in its citizens. I am sure we are all aware of the way in which there is a negative stereotype about some types of nationalities, because of the manner in which some citizens have been involved in illegal and illicit activities. In the same vein, Zimbabwean youth in the Diaspora should ensure that they carry the flag of Zimbabwe and display the good behaviour, deportment and excellence that have come to be expected of the ordinary Zimbabwean. In these times when Zimbabwe is under siege from the Western community, Zimbabwean youth in the Diaspora have the major task of defending the nation and dispelling the untruths, blatant lies and weapons of mass deception that are being peddled about the country. Zimbabwean youths should be willing and able to speak out and clarify the policies and programmes of the Government.
It is disheartening to read some of the websites which are operated by Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, and to see how they have even become bigger fabricators of information and cynical critics than Western media such as the BBC and CNN. Zimbabwean youth in the Diaspora need to be able to counter such fabrications and enlighten those who are misled by irresponsible journalism.
While in the Diaspora, Zimbabwean youth should form progressive, patriotic networks composed of like-minded youth who are interested to contribute to the development of Zimbabwe. Such networks are essential tools to bring our nationals together and enable them to speak and act as a united front. This will also ensure that they are taken seriously in foreign countries. These associations, however, should not be abused by individuals bent on smearing the name of the country and organising pickets, protests or generally being public nuisance.
There are a number of delinquent Zimbabwean youth associations in the Diaspora which are undertaking acts of banditry and general nuisance.
These youths have been involved in a number of deplorable activities, including interrupting and wreaking havoc during speeches by foreign government officials, all in the name of opposition activism. Understandably, a number of these youths are disillusioned about life in the Diaspora. Most of them entered countries such as UK seeking political asylum, and these acts of public nuisance are done in an attempt to boost their chances of obtaining asylum status. But the damage that they do to the image and reputation of the nation is irreparable.
In the economic realm, there are three key responsibilities that Zimbabwean youths have in the Diaspora:
— Firstly, to remit funds to Zimbabwe for the upkeep of their families and communities here. I am sure that most Zimbabwean youths have left friends and families here, and it is their responsibility to ensure that they supplement the income of their families.
— secondly, any visionary Zimbabwean youth in the Diaspora should constantly seek investment in Zimbabwe, such as starting projects, being involved in the agricultural revolution, or creating employment for other youths in Zimbabwe. Our youth may also become business intermediaries in the Diaspora by sourcing new exports markets for Zimbabwe, marketing our tourism products, sourcing capital and equipment for projects. They can also invest their own funds and resources in business ventures here in Zimbabwe. Why do we need to rely on foreign investors when our own nationals could be become the biggest investors in their own country? If the youth in the Diaspora take responsibility for mobilizing funds for investment projects in Zimbabwe and then pooling those resources, then they can become major investors in their own economy.
— Thirdly, another economic responsibility of the youth in the Diaspora is to develop rural communities in Zimbabwe. We are sure that all of us want to live in a Zimbabwe that is free from rural poverty. The only way that this poverty can be addressed is if everyone takes a responsibility for contributing towards rural development in Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, Zimbabwean youth in the Diaspora should also make constructive contributions to national issues. The views and opinions of those in the Diaspora, with their rich experience, would most certainly be useful for the country to be privy to new ideas and innovations. Being in the Diaspora does not mean that one should no longer be involved in contributing constructively to national issues. Contributing does not mean criticising unnecessarily, but it means being able to provide solutions to problems and enriching the quality of discussions and debate on national issues.
In addition, the final responsibility of the Zimbabwean youth in the Diaspora is to return home and contribute to the national development process. It is not enough just to come to Zimbabwe to be buried, but more essential to come and help, in any way possible to make Zimbabwe a better country for its citizen. This is a collective responsibility that Zimbabweans at home and abroad have to live up to.
Good tidings from the East
The former secretary-general of World Assembly of Youth (WAY), Donald Tinotenda Charumbira, once noted that: “I have noticed a peculiar dichotomy between Zimbabweans in the West and Zimbabweans in the East. By the West I mean the developed regions of Europe, Canada and the US and Australia. By the East I mean the Asian region, including Malaysia, Singapore and China. While the majority of Zimbabweans in the West are economic refugees who are clearly critical to the situation back in their own countries, the majority of Zimbabweans in the East are actively seeking educational and business opportunities with the view of going back to Zimbabwe to participate in the nation building processes. On one hand, this is influenced by the fact that to get into Europe or other developed regions, you have to at least pretend that you are a victim of some form of political incarceration, and that you are against the government. On the other hand, the countries in the East are such staunch supporters and believers in Zimbabwe that it would be impossible not to be proud to be a Zimbabwean when you are in the East,” noticed Charumbira.
It is unfortunate, however that the majority of our brothers and sisters in the West are not proud to be Zimbabwean.
The writer is the Public Relations Manager at the Zimbabwe Youth Council.