Mutayoba Arbogast

Tanzanians in diaspora open up on reasons for not getting back to roots

Reasons why some Tanzanians in the diaspora prefer to spend the holidays away from their homes in Tanzania.

A concern has been raised following the reluctance of some of diasporas to return home for holidays, with many claiming to have subbed relatives’ tendencies of turning whoever lives outside a village’s cash cow.

The author of this feature has recently prepared a questionnaire think piece to determine the extent to which the exodus of diasporas commands more questions than answers.

The questions ranged from; why most Tanzanians living abroad spend many years before getting back home, what was the last day they came for Christmas and New Year festivities together with their opinions on the importance of getting back to their roots as a means of giving back to the communities.

The responses on why most diasporas snub spending holidays at home ranged from the fear instigated by the natives who mostly prof them for support, without considering their personal goals and ambitions, a situation that makes them bored and frustrates the entire reasons of craving for home love.

“I sometimes fear getting back home over a limited budget. I am mostly forced to set aside cash for even distant relatives who ask for money to take local brews. Others go further by prodding me to fend for their kids’ education, so frustrating. If one fails to heed their calls one must be entertaining endless feuds,” says one of the diasporas who requested anonymity.

According to Boimanda , who lives in the US, it has been long since he turned home for Christmas and New Year.

He says he has over three years before he decided to get back to his roots, noting that he has invested heavily away from Tanzania thus seeing no reason to waste more money home where he remains oblivious about the integrity of his relatives in managing his projects.

“Thus, leaving an investment without certainty of returns brings more chaos. In addition, marrying outside the home provides an opportunity to exchange shifts (several years at home and others elsewhere) to make the children known around,” he says in an open-ended filled questionnaire.

He adds that conflicts among relatives is to blame for his long absence from home, explaining that “My elder brothers monopolized family resources "by force", …areas that are not theirs/not inherited and sell or use them with their own consent. This has brought discord and caused some to stop returning home because of the misunderstandings.”

He said the children (some) of his brothers who were educated by the diaspora and eventually got rich have been seen to sideline those who brought them to the city and invest/build on their father's lands while leaving the lands that are not theirs with dilapidated houses.

He explained that there has been unfounded competition, causing those who don't have it to see the need not to return home.

Another diaspora claims that superstitious beliefs have taken ugly head to most family members who see a successful diaspora poised for ruining, a situation that makes a sizeable diaspora walk away from troubles in their lives.

Another diaspora noted that the demographic structure of some rural areas has changed.  Citing Kanyigo ward in Kagera region, as an example, that elders, honorable and wise people with whom they were happy when they used to travel back home are no longer there.

“It remains a new Kanyigo with new ideas and poor development. If one goes there, one is going to visit, new village entrants,” she notes.
Poor development of Kanyigo. “We have lost the old Kanyigo with bananas, coffee, and a lot of progress. Roads within the villages were also being carved. We currently have Kanyigo which has been torn down, but the 'haves' have built luxury houses which don't develop the economy, hence dead investment."
“In the past our village did not have such lazy natives with dependency syndrome, thinking their lives would be enhanced by the arrival of the diaspora. If you go home, you need not only to celebrate the holidays with your family but also to be an investment in almost everything they do there. If you don't give yourself as they want, you will be told badly,” he says.

In responses to the questionnaires, the majority of respondents claimed to have not seen a very closeness to communities around them in the village, especially those whose parents passed on, hinting that they lose interest and enthusiasm, considering it is a period of rest after the hustle and bustle of 12 months. It is a time to enjoy and have fun with family, friends, and close relatives.

But most of them fail to come home due to lack of sufficient income, this affects even those present in other parts of Tanzania outside Kagera.

Explaining the challenges faced by most communities in the region one of the diasporas living in the US said: “There is the issue of affordable housing which is probably an obstacle for others compared to what they live outside Bukoba. I know here you will have many questions. However, remember that living abroad is not a criterion for being economically capable of solving community challenges.”

Phillip  Ishumi,a retired agricultural officer living in Morogoro region of Tanzania reacting to the diasporas' claims they are real but thinks that some can't come home as they have lost in the new world but saying the habit of natives to extend hands asking for money or beer popularly as Wansigotai- How do you live me, empty handed? has been increasing and annoying.

He said to curb the habit, village bylaws should stand to force a new generation of youths who want to eat without working into economic activities instead of becoming beggars.  

Christmas and New Year holidays are special for both, locals and those who had left their birthplaces and moved to other regions or outside the country for various reasons, when the diaspora come back home to join their roots to celebrate.

Community-based organizations (CBOs) in villages, wards, or districts, in this regard, Kagera Region, have allocated a day in a year when they come together with diasporas to chart out a way forward to getting free from the knuckles of poverty.
There are: Kanyigo Day, Ruzinga Day, Kikukwe Day, Ishozi- Ishunju- Gera Day etcetera, all held in December of the year to give room for those who have come for holidays to participate.

Tanzanians living abroad send home an average of $ 456.5 (about sh.1.03) trillion annually according to a 2022, Bank of Tanzania (BoT) report.

Apart from sending remittances to the families, communities, and development projects, they pay visits back home to greet families and physically participate in community contributions towards the developmental agenda.

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