Zimbabwe diaspora diaries

2013-10-10 00:00

I HAVE been photographing for three years now. I began at the start of my degree in photojournalism at Falmouth University in the UK, from which I graduated this year.

I was born in Zimbabwe in 1990, I grew up on a farm in Chipinga, and one outside Mazabuka in Zambia. I then attended high school in Grahamstown in South Africa, where I became interested in political art and current affairs. I left South Africa in 2009 due to my British passport education visa expiring, thus I chose to study in the UK. I originally wanted to study fine art, yet after more research into photojournalism I shifted my attention to photography, so in a way I’m more interested in communication than I am in photography itself.

I chose to embark on this Zimbabwe-focused project specifically because I am a Zimbabwean. When I moved to the UK, I was surprised by how little people knew about the Zimbabwe situation, let alone where the country is. This quickly turned to frustration with what I thought was naivety and ignorance. However, after studying the media intensely, I felt that it was the media that were the main culprit; the source of this attitude towards Africa — an idea that I explored and wrote about at length in my dissertation. I also noticed that many felt that it was only the whites who were affected by the Zanu-PF policy changes in the late nineties. I also found it interesting that many people chose to come to the UK, the former colonial, power to find sanctuary. Yet, unfortunately for many, the UK is not very welcoming.

With this body of work I wanted to show, not only the story of Zimbabweans attempting to find a life here, but also attempt to change attitudes towards the idea of what an asylum seeker and refugee is. I wanted to educate the general public on the complex situations that these individuals face in the UK, a country seen as a champion of human rights — a kind of wake-up call that the British government policy isn’t so friendly either.

• The blog

Africa is a Country is not about famine,

Bono, or Barack Obama. It was founded by South African, Sean Jacobs.

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