I have recently attended my British Citizenship Ceremony and started to reflect on the journey. Its been a long journey. I have learnt many lessons and thought to share my part of my journey. Its in three parts. I know that many people will relate to the challenges that I have faced . Many are still going through the process and will find encouragement from our story.
A part of my journey so far that has perhaps been the most difficult to deal with has been my migration to the UK. I left Zimbabwe with my husband in tears. My husband was coming here to study. He initially came on his own and left me and Tino in Zimbabwe. He left me working at a lawyers’ firm located in the Avenues in Harare. We were both miserable. I was miserable in Zimbabwe and he was miserable in London. He came back to Zimbabwe after experiencing depression and missing his new family. We discussed his future and decided as a family that Muchada and I should return to the UK and leave Tino. This was one of most heart-wrenching and painful experiences in my life. Tino was my new born, my beautiful son. I met him on 11 January 1998 and fell instantly in love with the handsome little man. I had not even weaned him and gave him his last breast milk at the airport. I cried all the way to the UK. We had to leave him because we were going to the unknown world of London. We had £100 and two sleeping bags when we arrived in London. My in-laws felt that taking a child to the UK in those circumstances was not safe and was irresponsible. My mother-in-law and my father-in-law had lived in the UK in the seventies and knew that we would struggle in the UK with a small child.
We reluctantly agreed with all the words of wisdom. I felt that I owed it to my husband to support him in his bid to further his education in the UK. I felt guilty because I had stopped him from going to pursue his studies when I fell pregnant. He had disappointed his parents and he owed it to them to pursue his dreams and to use the money that had been paid for his school fees as it was non refundable. I had worked for a few years but felt that it was better to give it a go and come to the UK with him.
I left my son and cried all the way to Gatwick airport. My brother cried when he left me at the airport. He was devastated that I was going to this unknown world, devastated that I was leaving my career. My parents were disappointed that I was going to London with no plan. As far as they could see I was just following my husband. They had wanted me to pursue my career as a lawyer and settle down well in my life.
I left Harare airport in turmoil and in tears. We arrived in the UK with three telephone numbers for people who could help us with accommodation. When we arrived at Gatwick airport we caught the tube to Victoria Station. We started phoning people who might be able to accommodate us. The first lady who we telephoned told us that we could sleep in her lounge but only for one night. We tried another number and the lady told us that she could not help us. We had one number left. We telephoned the Machisa family. There was no answer on their landline. We bought some bananas at a shop at the station. I will never forget the bananas because of the colour they were bright yellow and perfectly shaped. I could not get over their perfection. It seems random but I was used to yellow and black bananas which were oddly shaped . We decided to try calling the Machisa’s again later. We called their house at 7pm and were delighted when they answered. Mr Machisa sounded very friendly and told us to come straight away. They had a spare room and were happy to accommodate us. We hired a black mini cab from Victoria Station to Peckham. We did not even realise how expensive it was but were afraid to get lost in the London underground. We lived with them for the first five months of our stay in the UK.
To say I was disappointed would be a gross understatement. I expected London, England to be a place full of white English people like those I had seen in the films. I expected to see white picket fences and quaint cottages. I expected to see grand beautiful houses. I was surprised to see so many “black“ people from all over the world. I was surprised to see dirty streets and identical houses. I could barely understand what the people were saying to me. They did not sound like they were speaking in English. London was a culture shock for me. It was cold and miserable. The people did not even smile and walked fast all the time.