Dr Masimba Mavaza
The Zimbabwean community in the United Kingdom recently hosted a Christmas dinner in London.
The celebration was not only limited to Zimbabweans, but some guests from African nations and also included other international guests who are staying away from home during the festival season.
Mr Mambo Bedford Chimbima, one of the organisers of the dinner said: “Usually the celebration is limited to the Zimbabweans, however, due to Covid-19 pandemic scenario and travel ban, many nationals have to celebrate the festival here in the UK.
“The pandemic calls for unity and keeping that in mind we decided to include all international guests in the Christmas celebration. Considering the pandemic scenario all precautions were taken at the venue.
“After food and other celebrations, the floor was opened for guests to share their footwork experience and meet new friends.”
Mr Chimbima said organising the large-scale charity event was a fantastic way to promote awareness, raise the name of the country and have fun.
“However, the undertaking can be a lot of hard work, and pulling off a successful large-scale event requires a great amount of planning, organisation and creativity,” he said.”
Mr Chimbima went on to say: “Our common denominator was Zimbabwe. We met as Zimbabweans and for the first time we flew the Zimbabwean flag as Zimbabweans without any political inclination.”
Mr Chimbima thanked all Zimbabweans in the UK who graced the function with their presence and support.
“With this gathering, there isn’t many protocols, but the primary idea with the event, is to afford friends and family to meet in a happy atmosphere and be merry,” he said.
“One thing evident from those in attendance was that everyone had an associate within the room and that’s not by coincidence, but by design and that’s what this event stands for. It’s a platform to cherish one’s friendship with as many friends as possible under one roof.
“After a positive response to our first gathering in 2019, this year was the second anniversary and again we had quite an overwhelming response and unfortunately had to turn away some as agreed numbers had been met and in line with hotel guidelines.”
Mr Chimbima said last year’s gathering had to be cancelled due to events and circumstances beyond the organisers’ control.
“I really think it a blessing that we able gather once again and socialise with friends in such an environment,” he said. “I also really appreciate the support we got from all our guests who came from almost every corner of UK.”
A dinner and dance is a formal social event that is held annually to celebrate your success and milestones.
It is a celebration that includes exquisite décor, interactive games, delectable foods, and of course, fun and laughter.
Zimbabweans from all walks of life attended the dinner dance which was held at a splash hotel in Woking.
The exciting Master of Ceremony was Mr Brian Nyakudya who reminded the people that home is best. The event was captured by the gifted photographer Mr Charlie Rumveye.
Speaking at the event, Mr Perkins Matereke and his wife Irene said: “This year the organisers decided on an exciting venue. The event was blessed with the good Zimbabwean songs of the seventies and early eighties.
“The organisers knew how to wow guests with traditional Zimbabwean songs and dancing. Zimbabweans took advantage of the dinner and created a bond far away from home.
“This was not a high-end charity event, but it was a great way to generate a big audience, as the glamour associated with it was truly often enough to encourage people to buy a ticket for next year.”
There is a feeling you feeling you feel in the Diaspora described by many as Severe Home Sickness.
Being homesick is a normal feeling, one that many people feel from time to time to express their nostalgia or longing of the familiar, especially if they have been away for a while.
You miss home; you miss the smell of summer and the smell of the rains hitting the baked soil for the first time after a dry spell.
You even miss a social gathering where you speak in your language. You have day dreams of crossing flooded Masekandauya river or just seeing a cow or milking it.
So many things we take for granted at home become a wonder abroad. By meeting and dancing together, it does help to deal with the home sickness.
The insensitive ones will be quick to say pack your bags and come home, but some do understand the sacrifices others make while languishing abroad.
Now, with the new variant hovering above the world, any hopes of going back to Zimbabwe have been dashed away.
Home sickness is technically classified as an anxiety and can express itself in mild to extreme forms and can happen to anyone: children, adults, seniors, short term travellers, long term travellers, and expatiates.
Many people feel this way if they see something close to home or reminds them of home which is usually what triggers my homesickness.
People tend to vent their frustration in African or home movies, some will just brood and pray to be home sooner rather than later.
But this year, Zimbabweans gathered together and dealt with home sickness.
Most Zimbabweans feel home sickness because the culture shock is too intense, they feel unstable in their new surroundings, feel frustrated by the language barrier or trying to deal with the lack of close friends.
Home sickness is a feeling that affects everybody at some point while they try to sort out their new life as an expat and one that most struggled with in the beginning of the year living abroad.
December is usually a month of travel to Zimbabwe, but this year the travels were covered in the smoke of uncertainty.
This is not always love, but serious home sickness.
Any person old enough to be your mother and speaks your language becomes your mother. Maputi becomes a delicacy.
But it’s a little different when your oldest and best friends come, there’s something about seeing the familiar face of a relative whom you’ve known for a long time that just brings you that feeling of comfort and joy.
The closing of the borders has become a pain and its effects can be eased by this meeting.
The failure to visit home this year has overcome many with a huge feeling of nostalgia.
We make many friends, but it’s different when it’s somebody that you’ve known for years and has been by your side during good and bad times.
Staying abroad makes one realise that home is best and that so many things you took for granted are very important and naturally healing.
It’s really easy to sort of isolate yourself when you live abroad.
When you’re living in a different country, it’s not exactly possible to pick up the phone and ask friends to hangout. There is no time for social life, but work.
We go out about daily lives and lose touch over time if we don’t work at keeping in touch.
Of course, there is WhatsApp, Facetime, Facebook, email, more than enough tools in our hands to stay connected, but there’s nothing like hugging an old friend and seeing that excited look on their face. Sometimes you miss sitting in the dust or queuing for a kombi.
Most people are those who get lonely easily if they don’t talk to someone or see someone often and they’ll miss them a lot.
They like to stay connected, be informed and like to hear about people’s lives, especially the big changes. They hope to have long calls chatting.
As we get older, everybody goes on their separate paths at one point; friends grow apart, the time and distance gets bigger and longer.
People abroad miss out on weddings, funerals and parties.
In most cases, people think about going back home. But some would have spent their savings on tickets and had hoped to help their families back home.
Going back home is not an option for those in the diaspora. When times were tough and they felt so out of place due to the culture shock, that thought crossed their minds a few times.
However, they knew that this was something they needed to do and it was their first time truly being away from home.
It is true that it does not matter where you are in the world, all that mattered is who is there with you.
You could be living in a huge city filled with people, but still feel lonely if you don’t have friends and family to enjoy life with.
You could be living in the desert, on an island or in an igloo, but having the best time of your life if you are surrounded by your loved ones.
It is very true that home is where the heart is and where the heart will always be.
Those in the diaspora must learn that their home is where they feel the happiest and it doesn’t technically have to be in Zimbabwe.
People abroad are actually very lucky to have this amazing opportunity, to learn a new culture and language and to be introduced to new things.
The best way to deal with home sickness is to remind yourself how blessed you have been so far, with great family, an amazing life and meeting old friends and new friends.
The quality of life for your children and the opportunity to help those back home in need should give you comfort in diaspora.
You can’t keep wishing that everything and everyone that you love could all be in the same place all the time. There is time to let go of those desires.
Each time I see Sondon Stalin Mugaradziko, it feels like we have always been together. Friendship is not watered by closeness, but it is watered by truthfulness.
If you let home sickness take over you every time you felt it, you would have been back in Harare.
And you would have never forgiven yourself for missing out on this opportunity.
Part of travelling, exploring and seeing the world is to let go of the past, free yourself of whatever it is that was holding you back.
Most in the diaspora have changed professions and are now assisting the whole tribe back home. They are grateful they left home.
Sometimes all it takes is just to hear the familiar voice of your parents, or siblings to remember that home sickness is just a temporary feeling and will pass.
Being abroad is all about seeing things in a positive perspective and not letting that anxiety take over because if you do, you might miss out on some amazing experiences.
Yes, home is best, but make where you are a home for your children and for you and your spouse.