In a recent back-and-forth conversation via email with a potential employer, I got to the part where I had to specify my heritage. And for anyone who’s been asked this question on a regular basis, you understand how this could be the difference between getting the job and being informed that they’ve decided to “go in a different direction.”
On this particular occasion, I ended up spending a lot longer than planned; gauging the pros and cons of writing: Zimbabwean, Australian, Zimbabwean- Australian or Zimbabwean/Australian. Now to some (confession: including myself on some days) this seems like a petty issue of semantics with no real weight or importance to the greater world, let alone how I’m going to live my day today — but hear me out.
I couldn’t settle with either of the first two options because despite being born in Zimbabwe and raised by Zimbabwean parents, the majority of my life, including my developmental years, were lived in Australia, it had, and still has a great influence on how I view and interact with the world. Reflexively, growing up in a Zimbabwean household, with certain values and customs consciously and otherwise being instilled within me on a day-to-day basis, that cultural influence equally paved the stepping-stones along the path I am to lead for the rest of my life.
In one corner, there was the neat hyphen that was stress-free, easy to write and put together the two identities in a neat little package- inc. wrapping and a bow. Like Cat-dog, Anglo-Saxon or last names, you get the best of both worlds. However, I had a lingering feeling- call it instincts, intuition, conscience, spiritual guide, indigestion; that the hyphen didn’t quite do it for me. Aside from, the lack of respect to each respective culture I’d be enacting by picking the parts of each identity, I felt like it was a 50–50 situation: where I’d be 50% Zimbabwean and 50% Australian; that I was a ‘rare variant/mutation’ of the classic/quintessential/desirable Australian or Zimbabwean. And if you’ve ever seen Trevor Noah’s set about being Black and White, I asked myself “why half? why not double? why not twice as nice?” 100% Zimbabwean and 100% Australian — 200% of a person!
And so I was lead to the second option: the slash- more specifically, the forward slash (I’m not really sure what the other one does other than make fancy pictures: \_(-.-)_/ ). I wasn’t too keen on the slash because he (yes, he) just seemed a bit more rash, obstructive to the flow of the sentence and just kinda like:
“HEY LOOK AT ME! I’M IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SENTENCE!”
And don’t even think about wrapping him up. But as I spent more time thinking about it, I realised that the slash might not have been the punctuation mark I wanted, but it’s the one I deserved- that I needed. It allowed me to be both Zimbabwean and Australian; unapologetically.
Sure, you might go away from reading this thinking I’m some crazed lady who attributes emotions and personalities to little dashes of ink on a page; that there are bigger fish to fry or that you really couldn’t care less — and to be honest, I’d agree with you some days of the week.
Now, of course, from here I start thinking ‘but should where I’m from be my identity? Aren’t I a lot more than that? Who am I?’ — and all those of topics are for a whole nother article
I’m Moreblessing: A Zimbabwean/Australian actress, writer and all round hilarious creative.
If you enjoyed this thought, or even if you didn’t, chuck us some love, start a conversation and keep your eyes peeled for the latest ramblings of a mad woman.