Life As A Foreigner in South Africa.

by | Mar 15, 2021 | Community Contributions, For The Culture | 3 comments

Written by Anesu Nyakubaya-Nhevera

I remember the day I got to the Beitbridge border post. As night fell I could see the beauty of the lights across the border, in Musina. My Canaan, right there. To this day I can never put the feeling I had into words.

Some can say I had it easy. I had a relative already established in South Africa when I came. That didn’t make anything any more accessible though. I was so scared of people. I never wanted them to know I didn’t belong and this was still reaffirmed by instances of things that happened. Like the time I asked where to get a taxi and the response I got was that I’m black and should learn the language or the time I asked for directions and was given the wrong directions and ended up very far from where I needed to go.


I came to study. I had to pay my way though so first on the agenda was getting a job. Hard to do when you aren’t a citizen. Even simple jobs like general worker, waitress or shop assistant are hard to find. It was one blow after another. Eventually, I found one. My employer was the best. I am really grateful for her. I was happy there. The one after that was a bit better financially but not so much for my mental well-being. My stay was not long. I did however make a friend who made it worth being there, God bless her soul for me. These people made me believe that there are still good people out there.

I have been homesick more times than I can count. The way I miss mazhanje ebrown (because I don’t know what they are called in English) or matohwe or masau or maputi nefreezit. You find these here but it just slapped differently when I was home. Or the way Petrichor reminds me of the mango season (mangoes here and most things I can think of don’t taste the same). Most of all I miss my mom more than anything. I miss my cousins, and my friends and that is a void that can never be filled.

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I know some people have had it worse than I have. Some may say I have no right to complain. (Not that I am) I am just stating the facts. For every person who has made me feel unwanted and uncomfortable for being here, I have had people who have gone out of their way to make me feel better about the situation. Honestly, if most of us had a choice we wouldn’t be here because home is always best.

I still am anxious about going out. I still wonder if people can tell I am not from here. My heart still stops when someone calls me ‘kwerekwere’ (foreigner). This will probably go on for as long as I am here. I have, however, learnt to cope. I have learnt to move those nagging thoughts to the back of my mind because this is my new home. Flaws and all.

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Anesu Nyakubaya-Nhevera is a Zimbabwean born writer, blogger and poet. Her work has been featured in Zimbolicious Anthologies 3 and 4 as well as several websites. When she is not writing for her blog (, she enjoys reading, cooking and spending time with her family.  She is also very passionate about equality in all its forms (Zimbabwe). Follow on Twitter: @suenyakubaya