Monday, June 17, 2024

Diaspora Existentialism: The Psychology of Zambians Living Abroad


A Zambian Gospel Choir belting it out at Zambia's Independence Day Celebrations in Baltimore on Saturday, 24th October, 2009
A Zambian Gospel Choir belting it out at Zambia’s Independence Day Celebrations in Baltimore on Saturday, 24th October, 2009

“I’ve always felt that I’m affected by the world, by the way we treat each other, by the way different countries treat each other. P. J. Harvey”

A unique trend has emerged and continues to emerge as more Zambians find the financial freedom to relocate outside Zambia and raise their children abroad. Part of this unique experience has been the existentialism dilemma that members of the diaspora have come to suffer from; this is tantamount to clinical depression as their identity has been questioned.

One thing remains as fact, Zambians living abroad occupy an intermediary existence between Zambia and their adopted countries. In Zambia, they are acutely “UNZAMBIAN” having adopted mannerisms, to a limited extent, of their adopted countries. While in their adopted countries their “Zambianess’ is fully accentuated as they are surrounded by a culture that is not their own. The psychology of most Zambians then becomes uncorrelated as they feel compelled to pronounce their adopted countries when they are in Zambia and profoundly engage in activities to reassure themselves of their “Zambiness” when they are abroad, occasionally sampling some Kapenta or Ifisashil that relatives send to them.

While many sociologists and economist have provided insurmountable research on the benefits of immigration by Africans with reports from the African Development Bank stating that “ African Migration generates win-win benefits” it is no wonder that immigration for Africans has been limited to the prism of “economic benefits” forgoing the psychological damage that immigration has done to members of the diaspora.

Western Union and Money Gram aside, we need to really discuss the psychological impact of immigration on Zambians and the systematic evolution of an existence that is neither Zambian or that of their adopted country. What most “theorists’ fail to contend or discuss, is the clinical psychological problems that Zambians abroad suffer from. This has not been much of a discussion because Zambians themselves come from a culture which does not condone psychological issues and rarely prioritizes them as a matter of genuine academic or social inquiry.

My genuine assessment from my interactions with Zambians abroad and Zambians in Zambia, reassures me that there is an informational gap between the two “individuals.” On the one hand the tradition has been to praise those abroad as having far much more sophistication than those in Zambia, while the reality is that most Zambians abroad are suffering from an identity crisis that has seen them stripped of their Zambian identity and has failed them to fully integrate in their adopted countries. Identity is the main framework of analysis, as Zambians born in Zambia can hardly ever be anything other than Zambian despite the fruitless attempts at integrating into other cultures! We need as a society to fully go beyond the economic implications of immigration and articulate the psychological detriment that it has on Zambians who have immigrated. More scrutiny has to be placed on the duality of existence that is often the reality of the men and women in the diaspora.

Only through genuine social analysis can we fully balance the economic benefits of immigration abroad with the constant nostalgia that our fellow citizens suffer from. In addition, we should all evolve beyond the sense of extolling individuals abroad and make every effort to integrate them in the culture that in their blood and mind will always be part of them, the culture of their ancestors. This will afford many Zambians abroad an opportunity to retain their roots, and become comfortable with being Zambian yet living abroad. Only when we have this approach can we truly conclude the economic benefits of immigration abroad.

By George N. Mtonga


    • Abysmal attempt

      What Of us in diaspora who are fortuitously dating people who are non zambian and of different skin tone?

      We need answers


    • Mmmmh! These generalizations are at best self-satisfying. You need to fill the gap of understanding with some theory that meets your level of understanding.

      Not everyone wants to blend in with their adopted country and not everyone wants to eat kapenta when they visit Zambia. There are a lot of Zambians that just want to be individuals who were born in Zambia and no longer live there. They don’t want to be seen as a group that behaves homogeneously and desires the same things. Some don’t even look forward to coming back to Zambia. They live life as it is and make the best use of their opportunities. “Why abandon what one has built over years to just go and try to lay a foundation again in a place that has since become unfamiliar?”. Some people don’t fit this bogus attempt at…

    • Ba Mtonga, you need serious help.

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with Zambians abroad to retain their Zambianness. Its shows that they are proud of who they are…. Zambians..

      people from different places always do so, including those that have migrated to Zambia.

      Europeans, indians, chinese, americans nigerians, etc who have migrated to Zambia always want to retain their unique cultural identities. This is not unusual and unique to Zambians in the diaspora alone

      Nice try

    • Totally disagree with this baseless analysis….

      You must understand that the are different levels and motives people migrate from a country. I personally left Zambia 21 years ago more for political reasons then financial. I could not stomach to live in a country which has no basic rights.

      The world has become global and if its your personal feeling that you can not integrate in another country, that can not be a general conclusion. Secondary it depends on who you are. If you a low levels skilled immigrate from Zambia to the USA, UK, Australia or any country for that matter integration is very difficult as you have to fight at the lower end of the food chain.

    • And to put it plain and simple i am Australian of Zambian origin. I do not see any identity crisis.

      Just like the are Zambians who are of UK, Indian, Canadian, USA etc origin. No crisis what so ever

    • Benjamin,
      There is no mention in the article about globalization or denying it; what the article is attempting to point to is more research on the psychology of immigration on the African population mainly Zambians. This is designed to point the academic world to look at the psychological consequences of immigration within its different facets-legal and illegal.

    • Useless article to say the least.
      I live abroad and I still embrace my Zambianness. I go to Zambia from time to time and atleast 2-3 times a year. I have business in Zambia and business here in the diaspora and I am happy.
      VIVA HH!!!

    • Useless patronising article with no substance, reference and wish washy personal opinion of an individual who has lost their identity. Obviously never lived abroad for long. In Zambia(at home) you don’t have to do Zambian things because you are in Zambia. Those who are abroad do it not for nostalgia bit for community. By the way you can’t import kapenta or ifisashi to most countries. …and I would fully advocate my children grow up in Zambia if the education and health system were anywhere near a european country’s for example. What a waste of time.

    • Mr. Banda, accepting globalization does not mean forgetting about the consequences of it. There are things that need to be addressed

    • You are absolutely right , I see clinical depression in Wanzelu, Ndobo, Australian fimo fimo, and Mushota, Nostradamna$$ flip flops cant really say he has.


    • What’s this funny guy talking about? What Zambian culture is there still to talk about when it’s all been eroded by intermarriages, globalization and the pretency of Zambians in Zambia to want to behave and live like Caucasians? I live abroad and enjoy every second of it. I and the Zambians living here are not affected by any of the rubbish in this article. By the way, in London, we are able to buy Kapenta, dried fish of all sorts, dried and fresh vegetables of all types, caterpillars, game meat, etc, etc all year round. We mingle with all races and proudly speak our vernacular and listen to latest Zambia music and do just about everything that you lot do and more. What is there to miss?
      Young man, Google is confusing you a lot. Proudly British-Zambian.

    • You are right . Who is this man? How can he evaluate the psychology of the millions of Zambians in the diaspora through an article. Most of us are proud of our homeland, but this cretin thinks he is more Zambian than anybody else.

    • My friend George Mtonga has a point,a nd bena Zambia don’t be too harsh on him personally rather discuss the content. He is recognising a genuine concern, those of us away from home face many challenges that we would otherwise not face whilst at home, and they can take a toll on us mentally and spiritually. We take on an additional identity and may have to negotiate our identities. People face all manner of discrimination which can lead to depression, we also face isolation from not being with our fellow country men on a daily basis. So really Mtonga is calling for these issues to be given attention. Although, Mtonga can do a better job at making the message clearer for the layman, i suspect many have struggled with that aspect. Good effort from a good son of the soil..

    • Mtonga, you are very dull ayi. Listen to yourself, on one hand you say and quote “Zambians born in Zambia can hardly ever be anything other than Zambian despite the fruitless attempts at integrating into other cultures!” then in the same article you say Zambians live between two cultures or something like that..! you very normal you?? Imwe naimwe ba Lusaka times, is this an Article you can publish zoona??

    • Oh @rud van nistrooy
      Mr Mtonga is just halucinating from the Tower of Ignorance, never mind him please.

      To Mr Mtonga, nice try on some cheap psychology. It’s not just Zambia, the world has changed and now you ca live anywhere as long as you are welcome.

      I lived in Bradford, WY, UK, and the place feels more Asia than Europe in certain aspects of life. The diet in Bradford Royal Infirmary is asian. You fnd them in many Official Places. It is thatway because the Asians, mainly Pakstan nationals have retained their identity. Are you calling for Psychological Evaluation for all of them? Do they lack identity?

      A Zambian in UK, is simply that, a Zambian living in UK, nothing wrong with continuing to eat Nshima, nothing wrong in picking some manerisms. Solve REAL problems, this one is…

  1. Simple – its the schizophrenia of the ursurped identity, the uprooted pscyche and of course thriving on promise. Give us DUAL CITIZENSHIP b’cos we are ALL world citizens, but with our home-countries as “hometowns”. The rebuttal of unadulterated love for the mother-country is a problem for all diasporans, not just zambians. Lets make Zambia a HOME for ALL zambians and the dichotomous psyche u are talking about will disappear…all the more reason to adopt the NEW CONSTITUTION RIGHT NOW !! Yes, now now!

    • YES, the only identity crisis for Zambians abroad, or non Zambians now living in Zambia is an artificial one of forcing people to choose their citizenship. Citizenship does not automatically convey “Zambianess” or not but I still fail to find any valid argument in not embracing Zambia’s sons and daughters who may not live in Zambia by forcing them go give up their citizenship in order to succeed and participate in another country. The FACT is we ALL live in global society and this should be embraced, fighting push the best minds further away!

  2. A gap in research has been identified and therefore his propositions need further inquiry. There is no right or wrong answer, it depends on the perspective and this could be influenced by the epistemological and ontological standpoints. Interesting concepts being introduced and the need for empirical evidence.

  3. I’ve ready the article and tried in vein to understand it. It’s not even shallow in its content but clearly exhibits how shallow and misinformed Mr Mtonga is. I respect it’s his opinion but I think it would greatly help him to educate his mind or write on a different topic or just write something about the kapenta he mentions.
    There’s absolutely no truth or sense in what he has written but somehow he finds space to exhibit his miss informed opinion. I would appreciate if he can publish his research thesis on his Zambians Psychology.
    I know he will have certain readers agree with him but there comes in my saying that “even fools have potential to have followers”.

  4. I support your view and analysis. I have met Zambians that have assumed permanent residents in some neighbouring country. these guys are home sick, and caught up in identity crisis,

  5. Mr. Mtonga, I wholeheartedly appreciate your attempt to raise an important point namely, we need a more robust method of assessing of the benefits of migration. Though appealing to certain sections of the Zambian society, your line of argument is that it is not based in fact. You make no mention of the scientific steps, representative sample selection and analysis procedures, you undertook to arrive at such a conclusion. Only when you clarify these aspects will I take your finds more seriously.

  6. When away from Zambia for a long time, one does not all feel at ‘home’ when back in Zambia.

    And whenback in their adopted country, they crave for any thing Zambian – and yes kapenta is a also a big craving.

    Big dilema indeed

  7. Mr. Mtonga, I wholeheartedly appreciate your attempt to raise an important point namely, we need a more robust method of assessing of the benefits of migration. Though appealing to certain sections of the Zambian society, your line of argument is that it is not based in fact. You make no mention of the scientific steps, representative sample selection and analysis procedures, you undertook to arrive at such a conclusion. Only when you clarify these aspects will I take your findings more seriously.

  8. A wholesale description of the diaspora in the terms of the writer is wrong, while it may be corrected for those who suffer from indecision.

    The same could be said about some who are at home in Zed, so to speak.

  9. home is home fellow zambians, dont cheat yourselves that you can live in south africa or indeed any other country the way you enjoy your stay in zambia thats a fact… its either you take it or leave it.

    • General HK. Spot on. The problem with us Zambians is that we try to “live a lie”. Its different to be in the diaspora. Language barriers, cultural differences, food, school, neighbourhood arrangements etc. Its tricky outside there and the article to me is encouraging us to analyse these issues further. I do not see any point of condemning someone who is trying to highlight some issues for further discussion. Please lets study the article before we crucify Mtonga. To me he is not condemning anybody in this article. Maybe I am not reading it properly

    • @Mwaka. The idea that there is ONE true Zambian experience is becoming out dated. While some may say that people are trying to live the lie of a “European” life, there are generational changes at play. There are many young Zambian’s today in Zambia who’s first language is English, and who didn’t grow up eating nshima. Now you may want to say that their parents were “living a lie.” OK, fine. But to their children, that is the only reality that they know. It is real. Is a Zambian less Zambian if they do not eat ifinkubala or if they speak English at home? No. The world is changing and Zambia, like it or not, will have to change with it.

  10. By the way one can crave or ifisashi,but can you eat for a long time? Anyway,I live outside zambia and each time i visit i long to come back after a week or two.Some things don’t seem right especially the cost of living.Nothing wrong with living outside one’s own country

    • The last two times i have been there, its taken me three days to feel like leaving…. a lot of things just do not make sense. For people who have lived there, naturally the see it has normal

  11. Its a childish analysis. A lot of zambians in leadership now have lived in diaspora before. They are back home and no effect for having lived abroad. If one has money with papers ,they can fly in and out of Zambia anytime. The don’t miss anything. For them its like flying from lsk to Harare and back. The world has become small and very intermingled- everyone is a citizen of the world, zambians marrying togolese. Malawian marrying Angolan, American marrying south African. Its one world and life continues. Your perception is ancient.

  12. This topic needs furhter discussion but I am not sure this article had the best approach. Living abroad can be a double edged sword in terms of acceptance but I have found personally I define who I am and that is Zambian. If I am ‘too Zambian’ for some and ‘not Zambian enough’ for others then too bad. I am a product of the environments that I have lived in and as someone pointed out globalization IS REAL.

  13. Good attempt bosses but your article still leaves a lot to be desired.I know where you are coming from but personally I wouldn’t call my situation as suffering from an identity crisis.

  14. Hihihihihihihihihihi nice!
    First of all my dear writer, your opnion I respect though I totzlly disagree with you on all levels! First and foremost, your angle of reasoning is nothing but wrong. Being home as well as having identity crisis has nothing to do with all those reasons you have pointed out in this article.
    Loneliness is natural whether you come from a ditch or a castle, it has nothing to do with colour, food or country of origin, this takes us back to environment and circumstances, there is no place like home but where is home? You can take a Zambian out of Zambia but you cant take the Zambian out of them! I wont dwell much on these things, actually no time though I would love to for I can see through you, you are in great need of some wise info baba!

  15. Hihihihihihihihihi!
    Damn I feel like sending an Article to counter attack this one!
    Ba Mtonga, There is no place like home, but where and which is Home?
    What I read in this article is nothing but a piece of gossip after conducting a local research on people abroad. Dig deeper on why we behave the way we do as humans, how is the stability of our mind regarding change, what influence has our well being on the status of our current lives, how do you approach change in general? Because the way you will handle issues with a familiar environment will be the same way you would with a different one only adding a bit of touch either positively or negative.

  16. I have failed to grasp by what he means by identity crisis,because the suitability of the adopted country happens naturally over time,due to accent ,cultural trends,environmental adaptation and political,economic patterns are completely your augment needs more scientific USA we have corn meal in shops like stop & shop,price rite and many others.from my observation people back home resist change or advice especially the political spectators.

  17. This is a very good attempt to stir up a need to make a blue print to guide those that aspire to leave Zambia ‘to seek greener pastures’. With enough data, which is now available this would be helpful to examine & have analysed data to help people make well informed decisions before making bold steps of leaving home where they would probably have done better (in the long term), economically, socially, politically, psychologically etc. The article above only looks at the financial and psychological aspects. I must say major Missions abroad would help collect data which the CSO can ably analyse for action by relevant parties. This is also a potential PhD research project.

    • Dr. Eustace Wabo,
      Yes. It is certainly a starting point but I think a lot of people are taking it too personally. It’s designed to point to the lack of profound inquiry into the effects of immigration. It’s certainly very general because of the nature of the piece ( an editorial); but I’m sure a series of articles would do the audience justice as we attempt to force the academic world to go beyond the economic analysis and look more into the psychology of immigration.

  18. The article falls squarely in the category of pseudo science, and the author’s fears completely unfounded. I have lived decades outside Zambia and I have never experienced this identity crisis Mtonga is talking about. I am Zambian with a deep seated and unshakeable Bemba culture. Although I am Zambian and love my roots to bits, I just do not have the inclination nor desire to reside in that country. Of course if my interests and desires change and a longing for Zambia becomes over-whelming and unbearable I would again swiftly make a decision to go back. No body and nothing would stop me. Can’t we just leave it at that, if your hearts aches to go and live in Mongolia, by all means go! You are free as a bird to do as you please with your life! Talk about mental slavery!

    • “I am Zambian with a deep seated and unshakeable Bemba culture”; I couldn’t help it boss, you made my day. Lol.

    • I think you should look at it more of a suggestion as a scientific paper. The idea is to look beyond the economic implications of immigration and look not only through the social prism but the psychology. Immigration has different dimensions among them law, clearly I’m sure you aware aware about “immigration status” and how different groups experience abroad as a result of their immigration status. All these things affect how one looks at their “experience” abroad. There is mention of travel, some people cant even leave their adopted countries; because they wont be allowed back into the country. More work is supposed to be done, but this is not designed to be a political statement but merely an academic inquiry that needs to be expanded to find a few answers.

  19. What is your financial status, who are the people you hang out with, how is your social life and how do you balance your life?Who are your heros? There is no place like home, but do you know where home is, it is just natural to be lonely.
    Where do you live and how do you make friends? How do you solve conflicts in your life and how do you see your life in 5 years from now? These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself. There is more to this topic than what you have there. Food, Mr Mtonga… hihihihihi, now you are cracking my ribs, what has food got to do with identity crisis? Anyway, keep trying.

    • I some how agree with Mtonga. If you look at children of the diaspora ,especially boys most of them are failures . I think this is due to identity crisis . Food is no longer an issue as you can get mugaiwa, beans , fresh tilapia breams ,etc very easy . When you visit Nigerian home for instance ,they speak their native language ,but a Zambian home English is the main language .it is surely a crisis

    • @ A phiri,
      Naimwe a phiri, there is more to life abroad than English and Nigerians! Read Wantashis post if mine cant make you see out side the box!

    • It a series. Im currently doing my research but started with an hypothesis. So more will come and maybe we can find clarification.

  20. The author requires ‘clinical examination’ of his mental faculties. Why are yo jealous of people that have migrated and you can only look at them negatively. A lot of Zambians have good opportunities abroad which they could never access in Zambia, because they are not related to politicians. Stop being negative and get a life! Live your own life instead of worrying about what others are doing abroad. Stop the jealousy!

    • You are missing the point. This article aims at aiding the research of living abroad to include clinical psychology. How negative can one be if they decide that beyond the economic analysis of immigration we also need to look at its psychology and the process of integration into a foreign culture?

  21. Mr Mtonga, I think you had a point, but you are very poorly informed. Try to do a bit of reading and then re-write this article. I also urge you not to generalize issues, please be specific about what you want to communicate.

    • How can one be more specific beyond saying we need to discuss immigration and look at its psychological effects?

  22. Speaking for myself, I attempted to live abroad. I stayed for three years and I just could not overcome the desire to be home. I was often home sick, mixed up in the cultural stuff of being a foreigner – so I decided to come back home. I am so happy i did…a lot of very good things unfolded. Now I visit abroad for weeks and fly back home. Zambia is just a lovely place to be!!! I cant shake it out of me mwe!

  23. Thank you all for your comments. As the author of the article I would like to clarify a few things.

    This is an opinion piece and not an attempt at science. The opinion is in fact that we need more scientific research on the psychological effects of immigration.

    And yes, the observation are going to be from isolated samples until more research is done to expand; but remember within scientific procedures a hypothesis has to be put into place then empirical data either validates it or discards it.

    Empirical Data
    One thing is for sure, we need to discuss immigration beyond its suggested economic implications. There are so many angles of analysis that we have yet to read that can fully help us understand the lives of Zambians or Africans living abroad. Moreover, it’s not…

    • Your concerns are : the psychological impact emigration has on the immigrants to another country. The rest of your ‘article’ is based entirely on personal conviction and heresy. First, those that choose to emigrate do so for reasons such as more economic freedom, education, healthcare, etc. You’re concerns are well placed but poorly articulated and aren’t objective; emigration is hardly an attempt to become anything other than themselves, rather people have an interest to make their odds of success better. Eating food indigenous to Zambia does not mean they are trying to ‘reassure themselves’ that they are Zambian, that’s unfounded and untrue. I take it you do not write that often, but if you can, do rewrite your opinion and present it in a more concrete manner. Peace out eksay.

  24. Yaba!is this what hunger does to people Ka. They start coming up with unsubstantiated claims. Go and get a life if am sweeping the street that is my choice let me be I don’t come to your homes and question what relish you have been having for the past 6 months.

  25. Isnt it curious how most bloggers seem to have “rushed to the armoury”, or are at “daggars drawn” upon reading this article. The author might not be a gifted writer, hence the gaps in his analysis. But can anyone honestly say he has no point? I think Dr Wabo’s position (post no 20) is more balanced. Extreme views as those expressed by The Engineer (post no 13.1), may not be completely true. No matter how long one lives away from home, there is no way one can “not miss a bit of it”. As a matter of fact, the very fact that most of you are on this blog so often discussing issues affecting your country even when you are out there shows that your hearts are still connected to your country, otherwise you would not even bother to scream for a new constitution as our dear Engineer so…

    • You’re right however it’s to be expected, more so with the ‘anonymity’ the web gives. It is a poorly and clearly rushed opinion by Mr. Mtonga, so that does not help in the least. I suggest we rewrite it and expound on his theories, the most interesting being the psychological impact of emigration. I imagine that most Zambians abroad have a strong sense of feeling disconnected from home- home is where the heart is. The social impact of emigration should be explored equally. I suggest he sits down with a someone versed in public health as a start and move on to actual unbiased interviews of Zambians home and abroad. No offense meant but it is a ‘half-baked’ article as is.

  26. @22.1 Leo Phiri,
    It is ridiculous and highly misleading for you to say ‘most of Zambian children in the diaspora especially boys are failures’. What is the source of your findings, did you carry out a research or could be possibly based on your own children who may be failures?

  27. Well put Chris.
    Mr. Mtonga’s article like any other is not accurate for every human being but it certainly does apply to many. It is unfortunate that many people choose to criticize than make any sense of it. This article has raised questions and some people reading it are scholars, some of whom have vast knowledge in the various areas touched by the topic. To such, we say please contribute and support your fellow Zambian.
    Zambians, let us support each other.
    Tukekatana lisa?

  28. Please speak for yourself. What are you trying to say anyway? Economical benefits of immigration can easily be understood without resorting to psychological analysis of immigrants.

    When and where did you conduct such psychological studies? For all I know I haven’t met any Zambian in a rehab suffering from any identity psychological issues at all. Most Zambians abroad integrate very well, especially those who moved to English speaking countries with our good command of the Queen’s language. In fact I find immigrants from other places with strong cultural ties such as Muslims or those who can’t speak English to struggle a bit with integration.

    In a global world, immigration isn’t limited to Zambians. To confuse craving for Kapenta with psychological issues is naive.

    • Let me pick up from that last point I make about craving for Kapenta. I’m no psychologist but it’s a natural ‘normal’ tendency for humans to miss where they grew up. ‘Missing home sweet home’ has nothing to do with psychological or identity crisis as this article tries to portray. I grew up in the village in remote Kalabo and when I moved to Lusaka I missed my village and all the things I did when I was a kid. To this day I still miss the village. It has nothing to do with identity crisis.

      Yes it can feel a little 2nd class citizen here at times when faced with a racial situation but that’s normal too.

      By the way where do you please children born abroad in all this?

      I’ll tell you what’s frustrating and can cause mental scars: our bad politics and…

    • Meant to say ‘…where do you place children…’.

      And what makes people frustrated is the bad political circus and corruption such as being exhibited by the current PF government. After having been abroad you can easily see the wrongs being perpetrated by our public officials and that really can cause frustration that can lead to psychological issues. When you are in Zambia you think it’s normal the way our politicians behave and execute their duties. That is what we should be talking about here, maybe few will feel the need to migrate in the first place.

  29. This is why we Africans cannot develop. A guy raises some interesting questions and all he gets are rubbish comments. Mtonga may not be right 100% but the issue he raises is valid and should be discussed rationally

  30. I guess my question is, Who even allowed this article to be published? And later on to use this picture? I see a lawsuit against Lusakatimes.

  31. It is simplistic to explain away this suggestion as comprising economics and psychology. George, in your opinion you needed to feature a lot of pieces in place of some unnecessary sentences you propagated. I believe motivation, legality or lack thereof of migration, social status, economic reality versus standard and cost of living ( 100 Rands does wonders in RSA as compared to Zambia, for instance), and dispositions of the emigre in terms of whether their immigration was a result of marriage (there are women and men who have been taken to their spouse’s country)… it is not a simple concept to just jab with your kiddie gloves, opinion or not.

  32. I make ifisashi here in US because vegetables and imbalala can be found at Walmart. I also buy kapenta at Asian stores. I have a good job and I can provide both for my family here and in Zambia. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to live Zambia. I get what I want without bribing anybody. I am also respected as a human being. I am happy and enjoying my freedom. Some people have tried to migrate to US but it did not work out and they are still trying.

    • it happens when you cant even express yourself correctly by ‘living’ zambia and not ‘leaving’ zambia, if you cant see the difference your contribution to this important article is useless despite living in the US.

  33. Generalized assumptions and no substantiated empirical evidence from the article. Not bad for the efforts but I totally disagree with it.
    Lacks merit period.

  34. A very poor, and improperly researched attempt to ridicule the diaspora. I do not think for once I for one have attempted to assimilate or later on blend with other cultures here in the USA. I have kept my Zambian identity and continue to do so proudly for that matter. I remain a chewa, my name is the same, I eat nshima with infisashi, , kapenta, fresh fish with the head on it, I just enjoyed chibwabwa at lunch. I speak Nyanja and bemba to my children and pals on the phone and very proud and ready to travel home at any given chance. I have not attempted to diffuse or even assimilate as we learn in psychology my culture with any of the locals because I have a very strong Zambian culture which is entrenched in respect for the women, elderly and my neighbours. So mune swallow your enviousness

    • You missed the entire point of the article. The article aims at establishing psychological research of immigration as a legitimate framework of analysis for Zambians living abroad as opposed to economics, which dominates the field of research of African immigrants. Please read the article. This is not being critical of the diaspora this is the intellectual world finding time to analyze the lives of people in the diaspora from a new framework that will assist in understanding life abroad.

    • Dr Mtonga,
      After reading your response, I now understand what your intentions are, if you could have inserted a sect to tell what the intentions of the artical are, we could have given a better analysis. It could have helped if you had been more specific. Nevertheless, I would like to ask you to divert the theme of your project to a particular specifield group of individuals say, if you talk about the diasporians who have made it, you outline a few things and brain storm on that. Secondly, when you tackle the other group you consider not to have made it, explaining why and how/state a few pointers.
      It would be a good idea to also point out how common it is for all humans to adapt to new environment, you state the prons and cons, reasons from cross and trans gender, culture, language…..

    • Give a bit of insight over that adopted land, are people open and recipient to aliens? Showcase how prepared the immigrant is before embarking on that strange journey, how is their state of mind, do they know anything about that country? Clarify their motive to leave, because that will determine their stamina to “survive” or over come.
      By the way, some of those points you had there are experienced not only by diasporans but local citizens of that country. If you want to have a good documentary, do a good research with people who have knowledge or insight with both the owners of the country as well as the aliens. Back it up with some scientific findings as well as Political, Social and Economical means.So all in all it wasnt a bad idea after all, good luck!

    • Mr Mtonga, but why do you want this psychological analysis conducted? Have you seen any prevalent in these issues or what? I think why you strongly defended the needy to conduct such a research you haven’t said why? What is the motivation or benefits of such?. Usually there has to have a problem ora needy for money to be put into an academic research, e.g. high su!cide rates, broken homes, divorce rates, etc. Then you go ‘wait a minute: we have a problem here, what’s causing this, maybe it’s psychological impact of immigration, let’s conduct an academic research’. Please tell why you think researchers and academic scholars should embark on such an exercise.

  35. It does not at all seem to me that most people actually are reading the post. No one is discussing that some of you might be living better lives abroad, and certainly no one is disputing the economic benefits of immigration. What is lacking in discourse is the psychological research. This does not mean that ZAMBIANS ABROAD are all suffering from the same mental issues brought on by immigrating to a new country and failing to integrate: NO!!.
    What we are trying to point to is for the academic world to look into this area as another form of analysis as opposed to economics. I’m reading comments that people are positing and doesn’t seem as if anyone is actually looking at the point of this article; YOU NEED to start addressing the mental issues involved with immigration, the reality abroad…

    • The academic world has no impetus to engage in discussion because they are preoccupied with other issues. This is not how it should be; there ought to be more public engagement on a higher level. Looking at most responses here should tell you what kind of people are more keen to engage, albeit rather retrogressively. It’s frustrating that their is no intellectual forum for such discourse. I will say that the social and psychological impact on Zambians (not all) must be explored but that will require a study with participants in several countries. The financial expense alone is prohibitive. I am sure we have several Zambians that have degrees in public health, psychology and statistics that can do this. Question is, are they willing to participate in the study? my email: [email protected]

    • You are strong. I like your approach to this matter and the reactions you have got. Iam sure you have collected some good points from the postings (that posting about kids born outside, which place should they occupy and a few more).
      Keep it up.

    • What mental issues do i have living abroad? i dont get it. I came abroad to find a better life and i did, thats it. I still love Zambia and visit it at least every 2 years. its still my home, i’m building in Zambia and i’m not suffering in anyway psychologically. Dont see the point of this article

  36. People, instead of scolding the author, why can’t just be productive and contribute to the article. It seems like people are taking it very personal and making it an intellectual exercise. I’m sure we all understand what the author is trying to say. So give your perspective so that others can learn from it too. I think he sparks a very important topic that is rarely addressed, but is experienced by many people in diaspora.

  37. Guys! Just accept that you have been busted by George….hahahaha…LMAO !

    Some of yo, you fail to even raise money for air tickets to visit your relatives,

    and if by Gods grace you do – you want to come here and behave and act as if you are more superior than others…

    And we look at you and say,” whats wrong with these people.” LOL!!

  38. Mr Mtonga, your piece of writing receives neither commendation nor recognition, because it is not only lacking in substance but it also shallow. When you want to write stuff like this, make sure you don’t take your own little experience of life in the diaspora and make it a sum total of what everyone must be going through.

    Immigration is not a new thing and it is here to stay, some people will have to leave their country to go and live in another. God himself has approved immigration by what he asked Abraham to do. Life is bigger than the Zambian culture Mr Mtonga, you need to stop acting as though people will have so much to loose if they don’t eat kapenta and ifisashi, those foods of poverty. What makes you think I miss Kalebwe when I eat Shrimp and grits at Hudson Grille???…

    • Mr. Malimba as many here you again miss the point of this article. Nothing in this article denies immigration or disputes immigration. And nothing here says that Kapenta is better than, what you called “grits?” No. Please read the article. The article aims at recognizing the psychology of immigration as another legitimate framework of analysis, emphasizing the need to go beyond the economics. Personal attacks on my ” little experience’ doesn’t do justice to what is being pointed out here. You ignore the suggestion and like many merely look at your existence as the framework of analysis. Please read the article one more time and consider its suggestion. This is not an attack on the Diaspora this is an attempt to recognize what some individuals are going through.

    • George, I read the article again, and dont understand it. You are using big words which dont make sense. People are abroad by choice, if anyone doesnt like it they can go back home and many people have. For those who choose to stay, good for them, if they miss Zambian food, thats a normal thing and they should not be called out on it

  39. The Engineer (Australia) Raised some good point on the way things ought to be done but never done that straight way (Food for thought). Only he is a bit too reactive.

  40. Mr Mtonga, you are being very narrow minded. You think immigration is about Zambians only? Why should the academic world embark on this research, based on one specific grouping of people- Zambians, to find out how immigration affects them psychologically? Does that make sense to you? Are you thinking about the immigrant from war-torn countries and how grateful they must be for a chance to migrate? Do you think they suffer from the same psychological effects?
    Why are we Zambians so negative about immigration? Why do we want to act as though our country gives its people so many opportunities and for anyone to consider migrating, they just might be out of their minds? Why should this issue even be a topic of discussion? If its not for you trying to engage in some petty, self-righteous…

    • Again, and again you continue to miss the point. “While many sociologists and economist have provided insurmountable research on the benefits of immigration by Africans with reports from the African Development Bank stating that “ African Migration generates win-win benefits” it is no wonder that immigration for Africans has been limited to the prism of “economic benefits” forgoing the psychological damage that immigration has done to members of the diaspora.”

      That’s a passage in the article. Does that say Zambians only? Please before you start giving thoughts read the article. You are completely missing the point of the article, I’m assuming because of your experience, Again, and again, and again.. The purpose of this article is to recognize psychology as another medium of…

  41. Please please, read the article and understand what is being said. There is a lot of research on the economics of immigration by Africans, as you rightly point immigration offers a better chance for most people. With that said, here we are not disputing the need for people to immigrate; what we are attempting to suggest is that part of that “economic” analysis should be left to the psychological analysis of leaving one’s country and adopting a new country. This in effect has to deal with cultural integration and assimilation. At this point we are dealing with human faculties hence the need for psychological analysis. To argue that why should the academic “waste time” on this research doesnt make sense to me.. because in effect the purpose of the academic community is to provide…

    • I think the academics just delivered a draft constitution to Wynter’s office. There is nothing psychological about what we as humans want. We need to survive from the time we are born. If we can get what we want at home, there’s no need to leave the country. What you’re trying to ask is a simple economic question of wants, needs, and scarce resources. You cannot have 7000 people trying to fill one job, as an example. Governments fall every now and then by the failure to address/manage scarce resources. Migration is actually good for both, the country of origin, and the adopted country.

  42. Mr Mtonga, I don’t have to read that article twice to realize its lack of truth. This is a serious case of a self-acclaimed umpire on every immigrant’s life and their psychological state of affairs. My advise to you; Do not publish anything that comes to your mind. Learn to sleep over some issues before you bring them out of your head. You don’t know how people live in the diaspora, on an individual or family basis. You have no idea how many children are getting into sport, acting, Ivy league colleges and the like- chidren of immigrants right here in the diaspora. We just saw a brilliant Movie, 12 years a slave, with Lupita Nyongo and Chiwetele Ajiofor, both children of immigrants from Kenya and Nigeria respectively. The movie was directed by another son of an immigrant from Grenada…

    • Mr Malimba,

      At this point I simply do not understand your argument because it circles to attacking me personally. Lets make this easy that way we don’t waste time:

      I’m certain considering you gravitational pull you agree with the economic benefits of immigration,. That we all do. Now, the point we want to make is that another much needed dimension of analysis needs to be put into place and that is psychology. Psychological analysis need not be INSANITY, as you make it seem but it can be changes in perception of freedom, changes between the dynamics of married men and women, and the changes in children’s views of their parents, it can even be the transition of collective thought process to individualism as in the case of the USA.

      Not a single time do I dispute or allude to…

  43. @ George Mtonga, you have really generated a buzz with your article. If you look past the negativity of the comments, you could actually use some of the feedback to develop your argument further. It would make for a good academic piece.

    • A documentary will be coming out on how Zambians truly live in the diaspora. Hence the current discussions. There is not enough truth to the realities of living abroad for some populations and to bring this to light is the first step at addressing many problems that immigrants are facing not just Zambians but Africans in general.

  44. Anyway, I rest my case. I can’t argue any further on this issue. “Psychological effects of immigration” my foot!! As if they are worse than those experienced by mothers in their own country Zambia, who have to watch their infant children die due to a lack of oxygen on life support systems at UTH. You are being very unauthentic comrade, very fake. There is no shred of sincerity in your analysis.

    What were the compelling reasons for your making this suggestion? What really got out of hand psychologically among Zambians in the diaspora that made you feel it was necessary to suggest that the academic world should spend money on conducting this research?

    By the way, I love my country Zambia, but I’d rather live and die in the United States. Life makes so much sense here.

    • “What were the compelling reasons for your making this suggestion? What really got out of hand psychologically among Zambians in the diaspora………………?”

      I will shed some light on the real source of the malady, you guessed it, the president, Mr. Sata. I don’t know why he hates diasporans, but he does. He has injected in Zambian’s psyche that life outside of Zed is not sexy, but dull, and insane to attempt it. To fall in line with the president’s crackpot beliefs, some people go to great lengths and come up with even more lunatic theories. The minute we come to terms with the truth that this small planet of ours is entire mankind’s home the quicker our “perceived” psychological barriers will disappear.

  45. I’m not familiar with the “my foot” term is everything okey with your “foot?” In any case, hope things are okay with it.
    As to resting your case, well I appreciate your comments and certainly brings to light the psychological diversity of Zambians in the diaspora for every Humphry Malimba- im sure you either have your greencard or citizenship to provide such brute support- there is an individual suffering in silent in a marriage she can’t get out just to get a green card. Keep that in mind. There is a doctor working at McDonalds because he doesn’t have papers, there is a mother who if deported would live her American child back in the USA while she is put on a plane since she is not a resident or a citizen, with this in mind your suggestion that psychological research has no merit in the

  46. Ba Mtonga, from what I can gather from your article, these assertions are just assumptions from which you have developed your theory about Zambians living in other countries. Next step, you need to find a robust method which will enable you to gather unadulterated data which will then help you to build or disapprove your theory. This is not a one ngwee topic! Try the Ethnographic approach for instance which would be highly representative of both groups of Zambians that you are trying to compare. Only after robust research should you be thinking of publishing your assumptions.

    • @ Muchona thank you for your comment. This indeed is a starting point to articulate an observation that needs to be discussed further., hence the barrage of comments. The next series will be interviews with members of the diaspora, not facebook pictures showing people having fun, or living life as if everything is rosey, but real lives, real stories about the truth of being in the diaspora.

      From the comments you can clearly see that I have touched on a nerve, a part of the diaspora’s psyche, that has been left unattached- and that is the disregard of their economic benefits of immigration and asking far much more existential questions about their lives abroad. Granted we will find euphoria in some, and yet we will also find sadness in others, and others we will find indifference…

  47. Mr. Mtonga I am trying very hard to understand your article but I am failing to understand what you wanted to put across. If this was a sociology paper in S110 on behavioral patterns of Zambians in the diaspora , I would reasonably give you a “C”. That is after being very liberal with marks. What you are purporting to have discovered is the normal behavior of most individuals that have been moved or have moved from their normal habitat. What you said is not typical to Zambians alone but to all immigrants.The behavior is same for Asians, Europeans and Africans alike. The Europeans that went to South Africa or our own Guy Scott have had to adapt to the environment in Africa. They are no longer the same bazungu like their kin in Europe. You adapt to the environment. What you choose to…

    • @ Boza, Thank you for the “C” I appreciate liberal nature. Failing to understand allows the author to clarify so here is my summary for your understanding.

      The article points to “my interactions” as the premise on which we should engaged a different study of psychology of immigration. This has to do with, but not limited to, the pysche during the process of assimilation you have mentioned and the many different dimensions of immigration. And immigration is not the same everywhere, Africans and Europe, or ASIANs do not experience the same immigration or the barriers/ lackthereof in there attempt to integrate.

      The conclusion then becomes is there a different framework of analysis that can provide insight hence the title includes the psychology of Zambians Living Abroad…

  48. Mr Mtonga, in Zambia, people suffer psychologically in marriages too. We emulate success not failure. You can’t sum-up life in the diaspora based on a few individuals’ situations. Even here in America, indigenous Americans suffer and even become homeless and get on anti-depressants. Life is about choices, any person that found themselves in the diaspora, can find themselves with a green card- if they want to. The diaspora is not for everybody by the way, so don’t take the failures in the diaspora and make them an example of our psychological state here. How does one’s being in this environment cause psychological effects tantamount to that of a clinical depression? How does being in America make me lose my identity? What is identity? Who can it away from me if I don’t give it to them?

  49. Mr Mtonga is very right. You may all deny it as you want but the truth remains the same. You can never fully intergrate and an feel the sense of community and connection that you would feel back home. As someone who has been studying abroad since finishing GCSE, I completely agree with everything the author has written. Of course at first people in Zambia tried to treat me differently but its not something I tolerated. Speaking to me in English (even broken) all the time, asking me if I could still understand/speak Nyanja etc. Now everytime I return its like I never left at all. Here its another story. As much as I enjoy high speed internet, good roads and an excellent transport system, I just dont see myself continuing to live in a studio apartment with neighbors who keep to themselves.

  50. Mr. Mtonga:
    While as a social scientist you may have a point on the psychology effects of folks in the diaspora, the end result is these folks live longer and healthier. For the folks at home, one dares to say what tribe they speak and they belong to a some political inclination. If I am OK in the diaspora because if I was home, I would still be labeled one way or the other going by what’s in news on a daily basis. You bring a leader who has countable days of life and still can’t focus to do good but hound folks of different political opinion, pitting people against each other and one, and you’re psychologically happy living like that? Of note, there’s a person called Mushota who probably has no head but something between the legs as a modality of thinking and decision making.., how…

  51. After reading mr mtonga ‘s blogging,he seems to have written an article on social implications on Zambians in diaspora than the psychosocial part.he would have touch on people who have overstayed,professionals who are working in manufacturing sector due to lack of work permits and how this affects them psychologically ,as examples in his article.fear and how this affects the every day dynamics of mtonga next time don’t broaden the topic,try to touch more on the psycho part,not on social parts of missing kapenta and the faulty identity crisis.thus why most bloggers ‘s comments are on the social issues because your article illustrates that.

  52. What is the point of this article, I read it and I didn’t understand what you are trying to say…..i’m Zambian no matter where I live

  53. Ba Mtonga if you had used the correct term “emigration” I would have more respect for your article which I find very shallow – such research has been done from many other African and other countries, and you write as if only Zambians have ever left their country to live elsewhere so academics have to study it. Don’t you think there are relevant parallels in the world?

    Anyway as for me am just out in the world for a few beers, I’ll be back soon. No issue

  54. Very, very poorly written article.

    My suggestion; first, the writer needs to educate himself on what writing an article entails, and second, the writer needs to learn how to write articles centered on “analyzing a situation”, especially a complex topic like “diaspora”.

    We are in the 21st century, you cant just claim stuff without data!

    • Though your article claims to look at existentialism psychology of Zambians living abroad, your discussion leans towards a negative opinion on emigration:-
      “fruitless attempts at integrating into other cultures”;
      “existentialism dilemma that members of the diaspora have come to suffer from;
      this is tantamount to clinical depression as their identity has been questioned.”; “articulate the psychological detriment that it has on Zambians who have immigrated”;” Zambians living abroad occupy an intermediary existence between Zambia and their adopted countries.”
      I submit to you that you are using a research question to propagate a negative attitude towards emigration and to probe the minds of Zambian emigrants. It is wiser to promote unity than division. Do you work for PF…

  55. Mr Mtonga don’t keep defending your ignorance on a subject you don’t understand . I guess you are in Colorado and you just hard some dope. If you know the history of America, you should know that America was built by Immigrants. From your article and your arguments its clear about your perception of immigrant . Your article or so called research is about legal and illegal Zambians in other parts of the world stop bitting by the bush. The question you should first ask yourself is why Zambian Immigrate.

  56. Nothing wrong with viable research. But there has to be a basis, surely, or an initial problem/issue that requires probing. Why the psychology of Zambians living abroad, as opposed to all other psychological issues in other areas of human existence? This has to be explained first as being a necessary discourse to pursue. Otherwise, as I note in many comments above, it will be deemed to be an exercise in futile academic pursuit – for its own sake or an attempt to justify the irrational arguments against Zambians that have chosen to migrate. I would perhaps be more inclined to be interested in the psychological research into the lives of people who have been forced to flee their countries due to torture and other abominable persecution.

  57. Ba Mtonga,
    Though your article is titled “Diaspora Existentialism: The Psychology of Zambians Living Abroad”, your discussion leans towards a negative opinion on emigration:-
    -“fruitless attempts at integrating into other cultures”;
    -“existentialism dilemma that members of the diaspora have come to suffer from;
    this is tantamount to clinical depression as their identity has been questioned.”; -“articulate the psychological detriment that it has on Zambians who have immigrated”;
    -” Zambians living abroad occupy an intermediary existence between Zambia and their adopted countries.”
    I submit to you that you are using a research question to propagate a negative attitude towards emigration and to probe the minds of Zambian emigrants. It is wiser to promote unity than division. This is…

  58. Great article. If it affects you’ll agree. If it doesn’t you don’t have to call him names, just say no you don’t think it affects you. I came here for economic reasons and a “greener pasture” but I am free at home. When I go to Zambia they think am more American than Zambian and in America they know I am Zambian. If I won the lottery, I will be on my first trip to Zambia.

  59. I actually agree with some of Mr Mtonga’s conclusions, especially in the last paragraph of his article. He actually provides reasons why the people in the diaspora must be accorded duel citizenship. In my opinion, his article must be taken into context with the need for Zambian duel citizenship in the new people driven constitution!

  60. Mr Mtonga is trying to bring out a point that is annoying most of the Zambians abroad as can be seen through the comments. What he’s laid out is true of the majority, and I mean of the majority. There are some of course who are matured and past this stage of identity crisis but the large masses of this concern are still victims. From an OBJECTIVE mind I personally see nothing wrong with the article.

  61. I Love Zambia so much !

    i will invest within my country and help reduce unemployment of our youths.

    I walk with my head high at anytime of the day and night without looking over my shoulder and its such a sweet sweet feeling.

    Zambia I really Really Love you! Mmmmmmwwwwwaaaaaaa!

    Diasporans please swallow your pride, come back home and start living the real life.

    And we are not pleading but simply helping you….!

  62. 10 years from now all those guys in that picture will be destitutes in dispora. They will even be scared of returning home because by then they would have learnt that some of the guys they left here in Zambia are big shots. For example, I am just a diploma holder here in Zambia who has never gone beyond the borders of Zambia to look for a leaving yet as I write today, I can boast of owning 1 x 3 bedroom house, 3 x 2 bedroom flats plus a 17.5 acres plot in Shimabala.

  63. Research already exists in these fields. Look up socio integration, psychological effects of community and integration. Read up on the specific research on xenophobia and the effect of discrimination. I believe the issues raised in this article are not about living abraod as a while but the psychology behind groups and belonging. It is not well articulated and what is the end actions on the findings. Only those who are not proud of where they come from would have an identity crisis and an identity crisis is a very individual disorder that really has nothing to do with where you are from or where you are as it is a personality disorder.

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