1. You say “hey” at the end of every sentence, hey?
Zimbabweans are renowned for their odd use of “Hey” at the end of sentences, as if we need approval or affirmation about everything that passes our lips.
2. You’re on a constant search for biltong wherever you live.
Biltong is widely loved in Zimbabwe and, despite what any beef jerky lover might say, it is far superior to its American equivalent, so don’t get me started.
3. You’ve tried to cook sadza nenyama (a local staple dish) for your friends abroad, and somehow it went wrong (and you blamed the South African mealie-meal for the mess).
Sadza is a thick, corn-based dish that tastes of home. Similar (but again superior) to grits, sadza nenyama, or sadza with beef, is a meal seasoned with nostalgia for the traveling Zimbabwean…it just doesn’t always work out as planned in foreign kitchens.
4. You compliment people on their takkies (sneakers).
Borrowed from our South African brothers and sisters across the border, along with other Zimbabwean slang, takkies kept our feet uncut as young ramblers and is a difficult colloquialism to shake off.
5. When you ask someone for cordial, you ask them if they have any Mazowe (the local mixer).
The juice market in Zim is dominated by one brand — Mazowe. It’s arguably the finest cordial in the world. Just don’t drink too much, as the sulfur content is quite impressive.
6. You always say you’re going to move back or come on holiday, but plans tend to get postponed…by one year on average.
With so many Zimbabweans abroad, this type of conversation has crossed millions of phone lines and Facebook message streams. And when you do return, expect an extended family you didn’t know existed to be waiting with open arms at arrivals.
7. You buy Axe / Lynx ‘Africa’ deodorant.
Out of some kind of loyalty to your home continent, or maybe just an obsession for sickly sweet deodorant, you cling to the brand.
8. You have a childhood fondness for Vaseline.
Another brand that defined our childhood. For that extra shiny look, a tub of Vaseline was the finishing touch on the morning routine for millions of Zimbabweans.
9. If you moved to a cold country, you wore way too much clothing when you first arrived and looked like a patchwork poster for winter warmth.
I remember my Michelin Man-esque Orlando Magic shell jacket with fondness — unfathomably tacky with thick layers of jumpers and t-shirts beneath it. To assure maximum warmth, thermal undergarments clung like skin to all the precious parts.
10. You have a Zimbabwean flag in your cupboard somewhere.
And you take it to festivals. Look out for a Zimbabwean flag at big events everywhere…you will see it.
11. Your heart still aches when Zimbabwe doesn’t qualify for the World Cup…for the millionth time.
We pride ourselves, in bittersweet unison, on being the underdogs of African football. The nearly boys, lovers of the last hurdle and kicking it every time.
12. When you meet other Zimbabweans, you talk about Zimbabwean snacks like Thingz, Fizzers, and Fishes.
Zimbabwean snacks were a big part of our childhood. Memories are fuelled with MSG and sugar highs that came in the most outlandish of shapes and colors.
13. Either that or Zimbabwean adverts that none of your non-Zimbabwean friends care about or can relate to.
Take a minute to look at your friend at the table with you…he / she is not enjoying hearing about a soap advert you seem so enthusiastic about, and he / she never will.