My home country is Zambia but I’ve been living in Belgium for the past 20 years. I don’t get to go home as often as I would like because its quite expensive but I try to go every other year and when I go, I do not want to come back. I always ask myself why I live in Belgium every time I arrive at Zaventem Airport when the cold and wet Belgian air hits me in the face on exiting the airport, then I remind myself that I am able to go home because I have a job here in Belgium for which I am grateful.
So what are the things I miss about home?
My son – No matter how old your children are, you can never stop worrying about them. My son will 25 on October 29th but I still worry about him every single day. Not a day passes by without me thinking about him. I miss having him around and I wish he lived near for me to see him more often but I thank God that I can see him every other year. I am looking forward to having him in December for the holidays, God willing.
My Family – No family is perfect, well, some families pretend to be perfect but mine, I can’t pretend about It. Sometimes they drive me up the wall, we even don’t talk to each other for a while, but they are still my family and its impossible to stay mad at them for a long time because I love them despite the madness.
I come from a big typical African family of 7, 4 girls and three boys….we were 8 but my brother who followed me passed on in 2010 (God rest his soul in peace) and also have 9 nieces and nephews. When I go home, its so much fun catching up with my siblings and hearing all the stories I missed, meeting new nephews or nieces and spending time with them and enjoying every minute of it.
The Food: When I start planning my trip to Zambia, I request in advance for them to freeze some seasonal food: mushrooms, fresh maize, mangoes etc and I also give my sisters a menu of the kind of food I would love to eat on arrival and they always come through for me ☺. There has to be some T-Bone Steak, hungarian sausages, veggies in peanut sauce, dry fish, to mention but a few. When I am leaving, I always carry some stuff back with me that I can’t find here in Belgium. There are some African shops where we get African food but some food isn’t like the one from home and its quite expensive.
The greetings from the neighbours and passers by – When I came to Belgium, I was greeting eveyone I came in contact with, whether on my walks, on the bus, on the metro or tram, I greeted everyone. I quickly learnt that Belgium was not Zambia where we have Kimbele Mbele (friendliness) as my Kenyan friends would say, where you think everyone is your friend and you greet them lol. I never understood why I got weird looks whenever I said hello to people. Some would respond ‘Je ne parle pas l’Anglais’ (I don’t speak English), others would look behind to see if I am talking to someone behind them because they didn’t think I was talking to them because here, strangers don’t talk to strangers unless you are asking for directions lol.
In Zambia, In the morning, you hear, ‘Mwashibukeni’ (good morning), in the afternoon, ‘Mwaikaleni’ (Good afternoon) and all this can even be done over the brick wall fence without seeing each other, just voices exchanging greetings lol. Odi is another very family word; It simply means, ‘Anyone home?’. In Zambia, you don’t have to make an appointment or call in advance to visit, you just show up lol. I remember at my parents house, there were always people coming and going, some just passing through, others coming to stay for a few days, others visited indefinitely until they had enough of city life if they came from the country side. Sometimes, we would not sleep in our own beds for a very long time because we had to give up our beds for visitors and It used to annoy me especially when they overstayed lol.
Now, when I go home, people come to see me because of course my son and my siblings announce my coming, so the whole time I am there, people are coming to say hello bearing gifts. I just love it because I feel so special and loved that people go out of their way to come and see me. Last time, I had my sister’s mother in-law come see me with nuts (similar to peanuts but round) that I had not eaten in ages! I was so appreciative because I wasn’t expecting her to visit me let alone bring me something, it was very touching.
Sitting under a tree on a mat – When I am at my sister’s place, I love sitting outside on a bamboo or reed mat, people watching or hearing kids play in the neighbourhood or passersby selling things. I just love sitting under a tree telling stories with friends and extended family in the countryside too. It highlights my visit.
Speaking in familiar languages – Not only do I enjoying sitting under a tree with my family, its also an opportunity for me to practice my Lamba, my late mum’s dialect. Unfortunately, my siblings don’t speak it because it has a funny intonation and people laughed at us when we spoke, at least when I was growing up. I started my first grade in the countryside where I lived with my grandma because my mum had to work until third grade when I transferred to the city when mum got a nanny for me. When I was at the countryside, I only spoke Lamba and when I transferred to the new school in the city, the kids laughed at me when I spoke 🙈.
Having my hair done – I get to have my hair properly done just the way I like it for a small amount compared to the cost in Belgium and they don’t even do it well and Sometimes my sisters does it for me when they have time.
Hearing the cockcrow in the morning – I just love the sound of cockcrows early in morning. Growing up, I do not remember setting an alarm clock, as a matter of fact, I don’t think we had one, cockcrows were our alarm clock lol. Cockcrows and chirping birds are my favourite nature sounds especially in the morning. The chirping birds in the morning assures me that its going to be a great day no matter what lies ahead because it reminds me of the goodness and providence of God.
The smells – I am one of those people who love weird smells like the smell of the earth after rain showers or when water is sprinkled on the ground before someone sweeps it, the smell of kerosen when someone is starting a fire on brazier, the smell of firewood, the smell of nshima cooking at the neighbours…..I really enjoy that, it makes me feel like I am really home.
For those not living in your home country, what are some of the things you miss about home?
I hope you enjoyed reading this post.