Peace is relative in various places and situations. It may also be defined as not only the absence of war but a conducive environment for human development.
Reading an article published in the Zambia Daily Mail (07.02.12) entitled, Government needs a strategy to engage Zambians in the Diaspora by Daniel Mwamba (UK Zambians), prompted me to express some thoughts about Zambians in the Diaspora and government’s attitude towards them.
Many Zambians that find themselves in the Diaspora manage to go out at great cost and sacrifice -financially, socially and emotionally. Often properties are sold to raise money for air tickets etc, family ties are compromised due to the physical absence of those leaving in search of greener pastures not to talk about the emotional strain suffered by all.
On the one hand, is obviously the question of loss of manpower or the so called brain drain which is a minus for the nation. But on the other hand is the investment that accrues from those earning a living abroad. While developed nations value and reward academic excellence and professionalism, we in the developing world reward the same with blatant contempt leaving our brothers and sisters little choice but to soldier on in their often not so friendly environments (in the diaspora)
According to the article by Daniel Mwamba quoted earlier, The World Bank said that,” in 2010, Zambians in Diaspora remitted more than $350 Million to support the families they left behind. That’s more than all the money Zambia receives in international aid from donors yearly, more than all the money local Zambian workers earn in Zambia.” Surely, this must be food for thought for all development minded Zambians especially those in government.
Could it be mere coincidence that Zambia’s first lady, Dr Christine Kaseba also spoke pro – Diaspora in her tour of the Netherlands covered by the Zambia Daily Mail (Home news) 07.02.12?This is what she is reported to have said, “We need foreign exchange for our economy to improve. Ethiopia is being transformed by resources being poured into the country by Ethiopians in the Diaspora.”
She furthermore is reported to have said, “President Sata is keen to work with people in the Diaspora, he is counting on you to provide part of the solutions.”
While it may be mere coincidence that her pro – Diaspora comments and Daniels Mwamba’s article were published on the same day by the same paper, the first lady’s report about the President’s stance on the issue may to an extent be indicative of government’s policy on Diaspora citizens. If it is indeed government policy , then we can say we are headed in the right direction as a nation because one may logically deduce that the “magical” replacement of donor aid which is on the decline due to tough economic times could be Diaspora Bonds.
The writer highlighted the role Diaspora Bonds can play in saving money for individuals and creating revenue for the government to render essential services. Diaspora Bonds work more like Government Bonds which many Zambians are familiar with. Indeed, Diaspora Bonds can increase opportunity for Zambians to increase resources for development and also empower Zambians abroad to invest more.
I happen to have leaved in the Diaspora briefly and have a number of relatives and friends abroad and so have firsthand experience in some of the challenges encountered. Naturally there are many challenges associated with leaving outside the confines of the borders of one’s country of origin. But the major ones include issues of alienation, cultural differences and language barriers to name but a few. Coupled with the afore mentioned is the issue of documentation necessary for one to legally leave abroad.
Processing of National Registration Cards, Passports, visas, work/study permits can often be a nerve racking experience to deal with. Government support and goodwill in the processing of some of the above mentioned documents in cases of replacement, renewal and correction etc could go a long way in enhancing the positive contribution of our nationals leaving abroad to our economy. Many in the Diaspora have felt let down by their own government in the processing of documents due to too much beaurocracy even in seemingly straight forward cases.
Zambian Embassies, High Commissions and other relevant offices abroad could be more sensitive, responsive and supportive to our citizens in the Diaspora, for they are already vulnerable due to their status. Stability and contentment in the Diaspora is stability and contentment at home.
We salute all our brave brothers and sisters living in the Diaspora, we are proud of you! We appreciate the hospitality and care of all your hosting nations and governments. We have confidence in both the patriotism and pragmatism of our current Patriotic Front government under His excellence President Michael Chilufya Sata to support and act on your behalf to make your lives easier and your sacrifice worthwhile.
Bravo Zambians and all Africans in the Diaspora! Bravo all nationals living in the Diaspora, we are all just “ONE GLOBAL VILLAGE.”