The Need for Belonging

Published by Guy Taylor on

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Last Updated on 2023-03-18 by Guy Taylor

The need for belonging is what we all feel in need of, as drawn out in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Being a fourth-generation Zimbabwean was strange for me growing up because I never really felt like I belonged, I didn’t really identify with the majority of my white Zimbabwean friends that much and can never really say I had many white β€œmates”, most of my friends, both as a kid and as an adult were black Zimbabweans and even though I joined the Zimbabwe Republic Police at the age of 19 I still never really felt like I belonged and although I speak Shona fluently and my white man’s accent goes completely when I start speaking. I still never really felt like I belonged. I just have a gift for languages.

Since my early twenties I’ve felt both like I was born a few generations too late as well as on the wrong continent but they do say that the universe never makes a mistake and there is a reason for everything. I always just ambled on through life back in Zimbabwe but I never felt like I belonged, I never ever felt like I could say β€œthis is home”, nowhere that I felt I could hang my hat and leave my boots at the door and call it mine. I guess that’s why I always found more solace in and around horses & dogs, they have always been my escape, both mine and other folks because I couldn’t really identify that much with other Zimbabweans, black and white, though I got on better with the majority of black Zimbabweans I met and befriended than with fellow whites I grew up with. Still, most of the time I felt torn and that I didn’t belong and I guess time has just cemented those facts, for it is as we get older and go through the life lessons that we that we find our true selves, especially through others.

For instance I identify more with the US Independence Day (4th of July 1776) than I do Zimbabwe’s Independence Day (18 April 1980), I identify more with Thanksgiving, both in the US and also Canada than I do any other holidays in Zimbabwe. I identify with cowboys and the cowboy way of life more so than I do farmers in Zimbabwe. I prefer baseball to cricket and prefer American Football to rugby or soccer, although I do like to watch a good game of rugby. I find that I gel better with Americans than I do Zimbabweans. I just do not fit in, they do not feel like β€œmy people”, that said I do have some amazing Zimbabwean friends but on a whole I do not feel Zimbabwean; which might happen to do with the fact that I am stateless and am no longer officially a Zimbabwean which has been the case since early January 2002 which came much to my surprise since I only found out a relatively short while ago since I was still there at the time as I only came to the UK in January 2005. Surprised I lost my citizenship as early as I did? Yes. Disappointed? No, not in the slightest.

(Edit, 16 April 2022: After digging I have found out why I was most likely made stateless in 2002 and not by default which by Zimbabwean immigration and citizenship laws would have been in 2010. During the upheavals caused by Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF anyone born outside of Zimbabwe prior to 1980 lost their Zimbabwean citizenship and had to reapply. As I was born to a parent who was born outside of Zimbabwe in 1949 this most likely affected me)

Then I came here to the UK in 2005 and for once I felt like I belonged for the first time in my life. I made friends here, I worked while I was allowed to and I made lifelong friends who in time became family whom will always be a special part of my life, regardless of where I go. I found academic and intellectual interests and discovered my intellectual abilities. I felt like I was in a sense home. The pace of life was more me but in time that changed.

But after a certain spell in my personal life and with what I have had to endure I feel as separated here as I did in Zimbabwe, what I have been through, for me is unforgivable. Much of it has been down to personal, foolish decisions and a large part of it has been down to decisions beyond my control by a less than transparent and inherently unfair immigration system and so now through that it is time to move on, but not only that, I feel that the UK, even as my ancestral homeland has nothing for me and after sixteen years I feel detached and claustrophobic which is quite a change from 2006 where I would sit under a flapping Union Jack during lunch break and would feel a sense of pride, I could feel my roots pulsating through my veins but for some reason since I was a kid I always felt an immense sense of pride at the star-spangled banner – the red, white and blue. I think because for me American freedom and birth in 1776 was the ultimate in colonial freedom. A shining beacon of hope to the rest of the world that independence from tyrannical rule is always worth fighting for.

I guess I did find a little belonging in the Zimbabwe Republic Police but after doing a lot of soul searching last year and thinking back I didn’t really feel it then either, I always felt like I was someone else and that I needed to be somewhere else, that feeling is back, it isn’t through boredom it is that need, that desire to be around cattle, horses, wide-open spaces under big skies.

My Dad and I have a lot of heart-to-heart discussions when we Skype each other and I told him the same thing one day during a call. He thanked me for telling him because it is one thing I couldn’tΒ  really speak about when I was younger, I never thought it was appropriate but I have now got to the point in life where I feel that if we have something to say we should, unless it is cruel and unnecessary.Β Β 

There’s a hankering inside of me, I want something bigger, something better, something that fills my heart and that I can call my own, that I feel I can identify with. Somewhere I can hang my hat up and leave my boots at the door and go β€œI’m home”, I want my own home. Land to call my own, four walls to call my home. Equally I want to be able to walk out my front door, stretch, take a whiff of the fresh morning air and know I’m where I want to be. I’m after my freedom now, I’m wanting what I have always wanted more than anything else in this world, something I always dreamt of and that is the cowboy way.

I want to come home and know I have participated in feeding a province or a state. I want to feel the tiredness from working the ranch all day. I am in the process of chasing my dream because it won’t chase me.

But, we all are somewhere for a reason and I’m not going to disregard that, I just feel I need a sense of belonging which is something that the UK will never be able to provide me as much as I had hoped for in years gone by as my ancestral homeland.


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