Life is about survival of the fittest

Life is about survival of the fittest

The life of an orphan is tough beyond measure such that traditionally those orphaned are taken in by kin living in surrounding areas.

If the parents passed away when you were younger you remember them but if you are like me, you won’t have any hint of what it means to live without them because you never knew them.

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If you had the opportunity of living with them until you mature into an adult and lose them, you have occasional moments of being overwhelmed when you remember your relationship. Such is life and its wheels keep on turning.

Equally heart breaking is having a parent who neglects the needs of their child and has no thought, or desire to know how they survive, if they are warm in winter or well fed. Not that they can’t afford it but they just don’t care. They would rather give their time, sources or financial support to strangers to keep up appearances to outsiders and the world at large. Such is life of an artist in this teapot shaped country.

The art community is characterized mainly by musicians: singers, songwriter, instrumentalists, choreographers and dancers. Then comes the theatre – film, visual artists and so forth. Yet most artists in Zimbabwe are living a pathetic life while investing their all in their work.

An orphan whose parents are alive but whose priorities are misplaced. The most recent Heroes Celebrations were commemorated in style with our Neighbours entertaining the masses, like having a foreigner read out our relative’s obituary. Sure, they may have some empathy but it has more weight and sense to remind each other of the depth of our love and loss. In my own opinion feeding one’s children first would be ideal.

When a parent occasionally invites or talks about a Neighbour’s child it creates enmity amongst the children. Clearly labelled incompetent and given peanut shells for their hard work, most Zimbabwean artist keep on struggling and look elsewhere for survival. Growing up, we were scolded, punished and even beaten for accepting food at the Neighbours. 

In as much it is in keeping with upholding the essence of Ubuntu by inviting fellow artists within the continent and or elsewhere, it is more important to first make sure your own children have at least the basic needs. The starvation in your own home pushes you to seek food elsewhere. What it then portrays is either an irresponsible parent or an ungrateful child. But at the end of the day, it’s all about survival.

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In one’s quest to afford basic needs, many have opted for anything else elsewhere, and unfortunately for many they meet discrimination, abuse and some even death. The ones who remain understand that in order for them to survive they must have a sure monthly income first to help sustain their art. 

I understand that no one is coming to help us, only God can.  But God will not give us the manna of the olden days because he already gave us everything we need. As he gave Adam the Garden of Eden fully furbished for his benefit plus the abilities instilled inside of him for survival, so did he also us.

Now, the issue of survival requires one’s vision.

A foster parent is an individual who accepts the responsibility of taking care of a child and treats them as their own. Such a decision may have been necessitated by the fact that maybe they can’t conceive or there are risks associated with trying.

Another may be an empathetic heart which desires to give a better life to the child who may have been abused or orphaned. They usually have background information and may understand existing or expected challenges and still be willing to adopt them. Unions have historically formed to ensure fair wages, benefits and better working conditions for members. They negotiate with businesses and governments on behalf of employees, who either work a particular type of job or in a particular industry.

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It was going to be better if chance was awarded to all, but only a few have that privilege. Unfortunately, I don’t quite know the criteria used when organizing events in the country. Many are still upcoming artists who began their journey a decade or two ago. They do everything humanly possible to break through, marketing and perfecting their artwork yet they remain the underground performer.

The parents will always be the parents, that’s biology, but a child knows when loved or taken for granted. You can’t replace your parents with a Neighbour, but you can as well try, just to survive. No matter the amount of effort the children know their parents’ capabilities and more often than not a child must grow up, make own decision for survival.

Lingiwe Gumbo

Lingiwe Patience Gumbo aka Miss PatienceZw is an Administrative Secretary by profession and a creative artist: singer-songwriter, poet, writer and voice over artist. She is the Arts & Entertainment Columnist for My Afrika Magazine.

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