Monday 6 March 2017

Life for immigrant communities is not always a 'bed of roses'

A personal take on life in the UK as an Immigrant; rather gloomy, and we are sure others are happy here, but read on:

LIFE for immigrant communities in the UK remains 'gloomy', but many put on brave faces when they talk to those back home. All is not rosy abroad. In January this year, a Zimbabwean woman’s body was found in an abandoned house in Manchester after a cold-blooded murder. She had previously survived a suicide attempt as a result of unbearable family disputes over money sent to relatives in Zimbabwe without her man’s consent.  No doubt the zeal to please those at home has destroyed the lives of many Zimbabweans abroad.

Late last year, in Manchester, a 29-year-old Zimbabwean woman, a mother of three, was stabbed to death by her lover in their apartment. The man who had been cohabiting with this lady later confessed to the police that they had been having ‘relationship issues’ because of money sent to relatives in Zimbabwe without the other party knowing. He conceded to killing the girlfriend, saying he felt he was a victim of theft. The couple’s children’s custody was taken over by the children’s welfare services, putting the children into an untenable situation.

These problems and deaths are the result of the desire by Diasporans to please people back home, projecting a false image that all is well. There is another example involving an ex-Zimbabwean, who had become a British citizen. Four years ago, a 38-year-old businesswoman killed herself because of ‘pressure from Zimbabwe’. Everybody asked for money from her, but the husband was not amused.
The woman, a nursing manager, an expatriate from Zimbabwe who lived in Manchester, was a high achiever working for NHS Trust. She had claimed to be ‘feeling pressurised’ by the family back home. The family wanted to be financed for everything but clearly some partners do not understand the need to help extended families. Requests from home became problems and eventually she killed herself.

What makes matters worse is, the visitors’ visas that most Zimbabweans apply for to enable immigration to the UK expire within six months. Authorisation through other programmes like education, youth mobility, voluntary work and exchange programmes, among others, also come with extension or switch issues once they expire or are withdrawn. In these cases, most Zimbabweans become illegal immigrants in the UK and the going gets tough. Preferring to remain behind after the deadline of the validity of these visas often leads immigrants to situations like mandatory marriages, seeking asylum or illegal stays. These are some of the complications that accelerate homicidal relationships and ruthless submissions.

The Zimbabwean abroad faces two sharp sides of the sword; pressure from home and brutality in the UK. Ways in which immigrants are abused in the Diaspora are nerve-racking. It starts from inflated rents by fellow Zimbabweans who will be subletting. On the other hand, the brutality on foreigners in the UK defies logic. Under the new immigration laws, an illegal immigrant cannot open a bank account, have a driver’s licence, rent a house or even marry. Every human right, as we know it, is removed from an illegal immigrant in the UK. An illegal immigrant is not allowed to get medical treatment even if he/she has the money. The irony of it all is that the hospital staff comprise more Zimbabweans than locals.

Also note that in the UK, abuse is not only defined by physical violence. Emotional torture is the most common among immigrants in England. We have a huge number of professionals who left Zimbabwe while they were well up. They have now been reduced to beggars in the UK.
Their qualifications are not recognised. We have senior lawyers who have become industrial cleaners; headmasters who have been reduced to ‘care work’. Care work is normally a nice name for those who look after the old and clean after their ‘mess’.

But then, life is so demanding in the Diaspora. There are bills to settle in the UK and family to take care of in Zimbabwe. The most painful thing is that sometimes those back home are never satisfied, moneywise. They financially strip one naked, putting so much pressure until one thinks death is the only way out. Sisters fleece their brothers while fathers demand a millionaire’s life on the pocket of the poor bottom-scraping Diasporans.

In the UK, what is most painful is that some abusers are fellow Zimbabweans. So you are abused from home by your blood and abused abroad by your countryman. The idea of going back home without anything is repugnant and repulsive. The fear of being ridiculed by those left at home gives one the ‘courage’ to stay in such stinky horrific relations in order to get something. There is no good reception if you go home empty-handed, they say. At the end of the day, such a quandary only leads to rampage and suicides.

The ‘pressure’ people back home put on those in the Diaspora has certainly created many graves.
No doubt some people have actually become mentally disturbed. It is important to note that being in the Diaspora doesn’t necessarily mean one is ‘loaded’ (rich). Actually coming home for a holiday is sometimes painful and distressing. Everyone expects something, but no one gives you even a wild fruit to take back to the UK. In that regard, people back home must always remember that their ‘pressure’ can sometimes be fatal.

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