An exodus in black and white

CARL COLLISON

The difficult decision to leave his home country of Zimbabwe, his journey to South Africa and the struggle to make this a home is what Oswald Kucherera documents in his book, The Exodus Down South.

Mr Kucherera, 30, who came to Cape Town in 2009, says: “I worked in a bank in Zimbabwe, but when the country made the switch to American dollars, my job became redundant. I lost that job and finding a job is not easy back home. They’re very scarce.”

Being forced to look for a better life elsewhere, Mr Kucherera – like so many African immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers – chose South Africa. He left behind his mom and sister.

And like so many of the others, he too faced a myriad struggles upon his arrival here – not least of which was finding employment. Although he has overcome that particular hurdle, from being a security guard to his present employ as a receptionist and lift operator at the 6 Spin Street restaurant and gallery, Mr Kucherera is all too aware of the fact that his struggle was – and is – in no way unique.

For this reason, he says, “I intertwined my story with the story of others from Zimbabwe”.

The need to have these stories told was the reason for him initially setting out to pen the book.

“I’ve been interviewed by people wanting to know about the lives of refugees and asylum seekers, so I thought it is important for these stories to be told,” he says.

In his book, The Exodus Down South, the Brooklyn resident writes about his home country’s political climate, which “does not permit dissenting voices”, and how the country’s economic collapse caused “ruptures in relationships; in families”.

Far from an exercise in self-pity, Mr Kucherera tells of how this experience, and the knowledge he has gained as a result, opened doors for him and helped him to discover his destiny.

Still, he says, “It was not easy to come to South Africa. What I want with this book is to help people understand the lives of refugees and immigrants; that we’re just looking for a home. To understand and feel the pain of immigrants and our struggles.”

* The Exodus Down South is available at an early purchase discounted price of R100 up until its publication in May. Email reservations@6spinstreet.co.za

For more information, email oswaldkucherera@gmail.com