“Welcome. Have a nice stay”, says the lady with the green uniform and stamps my passport with a muffled sound. It turned out that this noise marked the beginning of my three weeks journey through a culture, which I was obviously not used to. I was born in Germany, I am 22 years old, currently studying psychology and computer science in Vienna, Austria and have never been to Africa before. Honestly, therefore I barely had an idea of what I was going to expect anyway. Of course, I read the newspaper articles and some general information about the country, the environment and the climate, so I knew about political changes lately, knew about the hot climate and that Zimbabwe is mostly covered by savannah. But basically, that was it. I did not want it to stay like this.
On my first evening, right at the start I discovered “Sadza” and I think I got involuntarily a little bit addicted to it. In the end I decided against the idea of taking a sack of maze meal back to Austria (due to weight issues). Fortunately, there was a lot more to explore than just filling my body with energy (how it was promoted to me). In my first week I visited the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences; where I learnt a lot about the way our ancestors lived, the Mukuvisi Woodlands; where we walked next to zepras and giraffes and the Balancing Rocks. Besides this small sightseeing tour, I worked in the project and helped wherever additional labour was needed. During the work I learnt a lot about permaculture principles like building a compost, planting herbs or retain the quality of the beds. Following the permaculture guideline “Grow your own, cook your own, eat your own” In my opinion it is a great option to develop a sustainable and environmentally friendly way of food supply without relying on big (western) pharmaceutical companies and their expensive synthetical fertilizers. Permaculture is in this case one idea of breaking through the import-dependence and will hopefully provide enough resources in the future.
Coming home now means to leave a bunch of people I will “dams sure” miss, but happily I have got bunch of great memories, which I could look back to, as well. I became acquainted with a new kind of music, opinions, permaculture in general, a different language (which is for me as European a very difficult one too), funny African movies (and hand-shakes) and an impressive sanguinity in life. My travel to Zimbabwe was a lasting experience and I recommend everyone from Europe to step out of their “western comfort zone”, take it upon oneself to fly to Zim and broaden one´s mind.