Busiso was 14 when he moved to South Africa. Zimbabwe’s economy had taken a spectacular nosedive, and it was decided that for him, South Africa was a better environment. His father was already working in Pretoria as a doctor, but the rest of his family stayed back home. Busiso was completely alone in Johannesburg. “It wasn’t the easiest of moves”, he says, as he shifts slightly in his chair. “It was during that time when xenophobia was a thing.”
“IT WAS NOT THAT EASY AT ALL.”
Adjusting to a new school, St. Benedict’s, made things even harder. He’d left just when he was solidifying friendships – Busiso didn’t know a single person in his new high school. “To add to it, when I came here, I skipped a grade. So I was a year younger than everyone.” There was only one other Zimbabwean there, who was a year older than him. He was surrounded entirely by South African students, all older than him. It was painfully obvious that he was an outsider, and there were many times that Busiso didn’t feel like he belonged anywhere.
New school, new curriculum, new environment, new country – Busiso had to adjust quickly to his new life. “It was a bit intimidating, I felt a bit out of place.” Eventually, he found his footing, and it was thanks to his adopted city. “Thing is, there’s a lot of people you can meet when you’re in a place like Joburg. It’s not the friendliest place, but you’re definitely guaranteed to make friends.” Although there were moments in the beginning where he wanted more than anything to go home, his father encouraged him to tough it out. Now, looking back at those growing pains, Busiso’s come out of stronger, wiser, and more well-rounded.
“I WAS STILL IN THAT COCOON THAT ZIM PUT ME IN”
Having experienced life in both South Africa and Zimbabwe, Busiso has to come to appreciate the similarities and differences between the two countries. “It’s a lot more liberal here(South Africa)”, he says, in comparison to conservative Zimbabwe. For him, people in South Africa are more open and expressive, something that took him by surprise when he first arrived. “I was still in that little cocoon that Zim put me in, where I don’t question my elders.” It was only after the big move did Busiso start to question what was previously unquestionable, and open his mind to new ideas and ways of thinking.
Fast forward to 2015, and Busiso is fully settled into life in South Africa. He is currently in his second year at Rhodes University studying law. “One thing that I’ve always been hardheaded. I like being right”, a smile on his face, as he explains his degree choice. “Having knowledge of the law is power.” Ever since Grade 10, Busiso knew was sure of himself, what he wanted to study, and where to go. Although the University of Pretoria was his original choice, he has no regrets about landing up in Grahamstown. “It (Rhodes) produces a certain type of person that I’d want to be like.” It was an added bonus that Rhodes is known for its Zimbabwean-friendly atmosphere, with Zimbabwean students making up a large percentage of the international students.
“IT WAS NICE TO BE ABLE TO DROP A ‘ZVIRI SEI SEI'”
Happy to be amongst fellow Zimbabweans, being able to speak and hear his own language, was a big change from Busiso’s high school experience. He’s learnt to reconcile the boy he was when he left Zimbabwe, and the man he became in South Africa. However, he has, and always will be a Zimbabwean. “Growing up there (Zimbabwe), as a child, really made me Zimbabwean.” Busiso’s heart will always be with his country, and even though he wants to start his career in South Africa, he has every intention of going back home and making a difference. “One thing I want to do is take what I’ve learnt back home. If every educated person is leaving Zim, how are we going to grow?”