Will the cheetah ever return home?

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I was in the US last month for a couple of weeks. As I was ‘cruising’ the massive malls and the unfamiliar wide highways, I couldn’t quite help but think of the African in the diaspora. As I drove towards the city of Boston, I remember how this very piece evolved from a single thought into the idea I am now sharing with you. I didn’t have to go far away to think too hard. The wide highways and the streams of different coloured motor vehicles drove along side me. As I pondered, I looked at myself and thought about my contact list in my trusted iPhone and wondered how on earth the various African governments could entice the cheetah to return home. Life seems easier out here in the west than way over there in the ‘dark continent’. So I wonder, why would a cheetah return home?

One only needs to watch the news especially the popular news channels to see what I mean? Africa is after all, infected with disease, war and corruption? Why would anyone in their right mind move back or indeed live in that environment? You and I know that this so called picture is far from the truth of course. Africa continues to grow economically year after year and there continues to be great interest from far and wide. You only have to read about the Chinese investment and even how Wal-mart is trying to get in on the act. So why wouldn’t a cheetah return home?

As I continued to drive towards Boston that day I thought about the various reasons to both questions i.e. why a cheetah would and wouldn’t return home. Last week I turned to my trusted facebook and twitter accounts and simply asked the question:

African in diaspora, could you please give me 1 word that describes your concerns about returning home.

I received a plethora of responses from people in various situations all over the world; some were amusing whilst others were honest and heartfelt. Even as I make my own plans to return home later this year I still have my own fears. My one word to describe my own concern is LEADERSHIP. This is the area I feel we definitely need to strengthen at all costs. If I look through the various responses I received, they all centred on leadership or lack of it in some situations. People used words like security, poverty, employment, Chiwokomuhomwe (bribery), stability, impatience, trepidation et al. You see, what I realised from this experience was leadership was required to create and/or improve our African highways into the same massive highways they have in Germany or indeed the US. Leadership will be required to change the mentality within various institutions so that this chiwokomuhomwe that often takes place and other such practices are no longer common occurrences. Leadership and various other changes in policy both politically and socially must be addressed to ensure that the African diaspora ceases to be as concerned as they are now. At this very moment especially with the growth and the changes on the continent we need each other more. Indeed there are many cheetahs at home and together we can accomplish so much.

I leave the first part of this discussion with these two questions: -

  • What is the one word that describes your concern about Africa irrespective of whether you live on the continent or not?
  • What are your ‘cheetah’ ideas regarding that one word?
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Comments

  1. James Chikonamombe says

    For me it’s the security situation; I don’t want to be awoken at two in the morning by big, burly men in dark sunglasses. The day the army retreats to the barracks and the state security officials stop terrorizing the public, that’s the day I’ll return (for good!) to my beloved Zimbabwe.

      • James Chikonamombe says

        My late father (for being a Zapu member in the mid-80s). Not at two in the morning, but at four in the afternoon. Scary!

  2. Anonymous says

    This is interesting as we had a similar conversation last Saturday at the Uganda diaspora conference.

    Mine would have to be security too! I mean this in the widest sense of the word- (sense of security). Job security, financial security, access to decent health care etc.

    • Sir Nigel says

      You know that I am eager to hear more about this Uganda dispora conference :)

      I wrote a letter on my blog – http://sirnige.com/2010/10/29/an-open-letter-to-my-fellow-zimbabweans/ and this reaffirmed my school of thought. That is as Africans we often (more than we admit), share very similar challenges. I am now more curious about what other Africans are going through in their daily lives. I find myself following more Kenyans et al so I can get a better feel for what ‘our’ challenges are and how we can achieve and overcome them together. Our concerns about returning home for example are so similar.

      • Savvy Kenya says

        For those of us who haven’t left home yet, I don’t have a reason to. If everyone thinks the same, security situation, bad leadership, corruption and what not, who will be left to rectify the situation? The best brains leave for scholarship opportunities etc and never come back, and from the comfort of their homes abroad complain about bad leadership back home. Some sacrifices have to be made if you want Africa to be where you want it to be.

  3. Emang says

    Security is a big issue for me as well; in terms of financial, my family’s security at home, school, health etc. A solution that keeps playing in my mind is to keep one foot in the west and one foot at home. If the funk hits the fan, I will be sure to have a means of escape. Well what can I say? Perhaps I am being a sell out. And most important is to secure my children’s future. I mean, I have choices as to where to go in Africa. If it were to be my husband’s country, Zimbabwe, I would certainly have all these concerns and more. I would be concerned about what would happen in the event of his death, or mine for instance, would our property become free reign to relatives who feel entitled to it, leaving my children on the borderline of poverty? Afterall, I am not their family, he may be all they care about and in his absense, I may be in trouble. There is such a thin line between prosperity and poverty in Africa, no wealth management as a safety net for securing a family’s welfare.

    • Sir Nigel says

      Emang, I really like the way you write!! I really do!

      Your response to my blog required more time hence the delay. You have asked very good questions and extremely practical at that! I’ll speak for Zimbabwe. The law does protect women and indeed their children in cases where the families want to take away assets after death. Nowadays with societal pressure, taking away assets from a mother with children is not as prevalent as it used to be. Of course you do get some cases where people are not informed or in fact unaware of their rights. Some family members do prey on this. I believe some education in this area is vital for all.

      I don’t fault you for having one foot in and one foot out of Africa. I personally believe that (a blog – a continuation of ‘the cheetah theme’ will further illustrate this very point) Zimbabwe for example is not for everyone ‘just yet’ and we do have to be VERY practical about the challenges including the various security issues you raised. If people have families and other such commitments it makes it even harder to ‘just dive in’ and this I fully understand.

      I do believe that proper planning is required when moving countries in any instance and more so when moving back to Africa. I’m surprised that no one has mentioned that cultural challenges but we’ll leave this for another blog perhaps.

      • Emang says

        Thanks Sir Nigel. Please educate me. You post some really good resources for living/travel in Zim on your blog. It might be a good idea to “educate” women in this very issue on protecting of family assets, I know my rights now, how do I go about them? Who do I need to talk to?

  4. Divinesignora says

    For me it is corruption…I hate that to get access to basic services you either need to know someone or be willing to struggle for it. Corruption is not neccessarily fuelled by greed, for some it pays school fees and medical bills. It happens because the environment allows it ie people do not know their rights or are misinformed. I cringe every time I a ‘road block’ if one of my uncles is driving….we stop for up to 30mins instead of 5-10mins if he succumbed to bribery.
    My cheetah idea would be making sure people know their basic rights, effective complaints management systems, better pay for civil servants, and computerising most systems to minimise human manipulation.

  5. Sadia says

    Responsibility – To my child period. I could not move move her away from the education and health access she was born into. Before I am misunderstood as saying I want those for free, I actually pay for both in UK but at least the access is there. I have seen too many examples where educationa and health issues have been the biggest disapointment for those who have gone back.

    As an aside, I totally believe that the key to getting Africans to go back is to support each other to be financially viable in the West which would make it easier to invest in Africa.So many of the discussions are around creating wealth in Africa but that is so much easier once the wealth grown outside can be taken into Africa…just a thought! This would also provide the sense of security Ida is talking about.

    • Sir Nigel says

      Hi Sadia – thank you for responding to my post. You have raised a very interesting and ‘real’ concern. I have a friends who are in similar situations who won’t even think of moving back simply because of this reason. I can understand.I hope to see a day when in time, and depending on where you come from – you could make the decision to return or not based on something other than this reason.

      • Sadia says

        Thanks Nigel, unfortunatly for me the concern is very real, I have numerous examples of those who went back home and these reasons are the cause of regret. Mostly education, you cannot go back on that with a child can you? As it may have been obvious in some of my replies to other posts, I can only talk for where I come from, not Africa as a whole, as now many Sierra Leoneans who went back home look to Ghana for both health and educational needs.

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