Zimbabweans in England and Their Views on Nationality
26 June 2023
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By Dr Masimba Mavaza, and Lean Chachoka | The question of “where are you from from?” often sparks various emotions and reactions, especially among individuals from ethnic minorities. For some, it may be a harmless inquiry to foster conversation, while for others, it can be a reminder of their perpetual foreignness in their adopted country. This article aims to analyze the sentiments of Zimbabweans living in England who feel ashamed of their association with Zimbabwe, exploring the reasons behind their ambivalence and the importance of national pride.

Mixed Reactions to the Question

When asked “where are you from from?” different individuals respond with a range of emotions. Some feel comfortable and proud to share their heritage, embracing the opportunity to discuss their culture and upbringing. Others may perceive it as an invasion of their privacy, particularly when the question is posed by strangers. The response is often influenced by the relationship with the person asking the question.

The Perspective of Children

Children, in their innocent and uncomplicated outlook, offer valuable insights into this matter. Their responses reflect the context of the questioner and their intent. A friend’s inquiry is seen as genuine curiosity and an opportunity to strengthen bonds, while strangers seeking personal information may raise concerns. Parents often teach their children not to share their background with strangers, highlighting the sensitivity associated with the question.

Personal Experiences and Reactions

Individual experiences regarding the question of origin differ, and reactions may vary. While some individuals choose not to take offense, acknowledging the normalcy of feeling different emotions, others feel angered by the assumption that their birthplace defines their identity. Many Zimbabweans who have recently migrated to the UK are often surprised by the perspectives of those who have been there for an extended period.

Challenging Stereotypes

One incident involving a Zimbabwean man being mocked for his country of origin exemplifies the outdated stereotypes some people still associate with Zimbabwe. The incident, though amusing to some, offended others who recognized the woman’s ignorance and detachment from the reality of modern Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans, like people from any other country, exhibit diverse characteristics and behaviors that defy generalizations.

The Negative Perception of Zimbabweans

A subset of Zimbabweans residing in the UK attempts to distance themselves from their national identity, often conveying a lack of faith in their homeland. This mindset can lead to an inclination to criticize Zimbabwe and seek validation from foreign cultures. Such individuals may hide their nationality or even spread negative narratives about their country to gain sympathy or secure visas, perpetuating an unfavorable image of Zimbabwe.

Promoting National Pride and Patriotism

Despite the prevalent skepticism, there is a need for Zimbabweans living abroad to be proud of their heritage and represent their country positively. Zimbabweans should embody the role of cultural ambassadors, highlighting the richness of their traditions and the positive aspects of their nation. By embracing national pride, individuals can challenge stereotypes and foster a sense of belonging.

The Importance of Attachment to One’s Country

A strong sense of attachment and commitment to one’s country is crucial. While individuals may adopt new homes and cultures, they should not forget their roots. National pride should extend beyond personal interests, focusing on the collective well-being and reputation of the country. Respecting the traditions and values of one’s homeland while appreciating the adopted country’s values is a balancing act that can contribute to a sense of belonging.

The question of “where are you from from?” holds different connotations for individuals, particularly Zimbabweans living in England. While some embrace their heritage with pride, others may feel uncomfortable or even ashamed of their association with Zimbabwe. The negative perception of their homeland and a lack of patriotism contribute to this ambivalence. However, it is crucial for Zimbabweans to challenge stereotypes, promote national pride, and represent their country positively. By doing so, they can foster a sense of belonging and ensure a more inclusive and respectful society.

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