By NoViolet Bulawayo, a Zimbabwean fellow at Cornell and 2011 Caine Prize winner for African writing
Excerpt from The Africa Report
Come December the year folds its wings like a great, tired bird, and they return home for Christmas. One minute it’s quiet and the next they are swarming, spewing, spilling – just eating up the place and squeezing breath out of the air. When the air gags and chokes, they just keep squeezing and squeezing and squeezing. Diaspora; they are famished for their land and are savage in their love, and they don’t care if they draw blood.
[ . . . ]
You can tell the ones from America and Britain and Dubai [ . . . ] because these ones come by air. They are also the richest: British pounds, American dollars, euros, francs, what-what. Any money you can think of they have, but then they are always careful to spend it, you’d think they’ve bled and starved for it. They walk with the gait of the aged, feet savour the earth, reluctant to part with the ground. This is their prayer that the land remembers them.
When these ones come bearing children who don’t speak our languages, who are sickened by our foods, who are afraid of dirt, we avoid their eyes, we hold the children to the sun like sad tokens and smile. But what we really want to ask the parents is, ‘What have you done?’ when these ones pounce with gadgets and take pictures of everything they see we are patient with them because we know that this is what they must do in order to survive over there.
Come December the year folds its wings like a great, tired bird, and they return for Christmas.
“These ones pounce with gadgets and take pictures of everything they see we are patient with them because we know that this is what they must do in order to survive over there.”
Diaspora amusement at the expense of locals: Rahat Bakery attempts to get into the festive mood, Christmas, 2004, Lahore, Pakistan