Source: Diaspora bigger than Texas, London | The Herald August 9, 2017
Mabasa Sasa Editor, Sunday Mail
From Patience Singo helping Mongolians mine gold sustainably in Mongolia to unassuming missionaries toughing it out in South America, Zimbabweans can be found all over the world.
Going overseas no longer means heading out to the US or the UK. Zimbabweans are discovering that the world is much larger than London and Texas, the two places our people tend to flock to when they think “overseas”.
Few, though, are yet to grow roots in Iran, a long-time ally in the Middle East with which Zimbabwe has been trying to grow relations beyond political ties for many years now. That is not to say inroads are not being made.
There are presently 21 known Zimbabweans studying in Iran. Seven of them are lecturers on a University of Zimbabwe staff development programme facilitated for them by their Vice-Chancellor, Professor Levy Nyagura, to whom they repeatedly express gratitude for getting them the opportunity to widen their academic and cultural horizons.
Others are on scholarships provided by Iran’s Cultural Centre in Harare, while some are on private financing arrangements. The fields of study show a strong bias towards technical areas.
The two PhD candidates are researching Materials Engineering and Medical Biotechnology. The 12 Masters students are pursuing a mind-boggling array of engineering disciplines — like Geotechnical, Mining Rock Mechanics and Fluid Mechanics — and medical sciences like Nano-Biotechnology.
The old staples, like Pharmacy and Law, are also represented.
The Zimbabwean community in Iran is not all about students. A fair number of Zimbabweans in Iran are working full-time.
These include a group of engineers who are doing their thing with Irancell, the Middle Eastern country’s second-largest mobile telecommunications firm.
And it is not just the nerds who have grown roots in Iran. Voedsel Tobacco, a coop steered to life by SMEs and Cooperatives Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni has become the first Zimbabwean company to be registered and to open offices in Iran.
The entry of the firm was facilitated by Iran’s Minister of Cooperatives, Labour and Social Welfare Mr Ali Rabiei, who was on hand to welcome President Mugabe to Tehran when Zimbabwe’s Head of State and Government landed here on Friday.
The country is a bit hot (okay, maybe more than a “bit” hot), and you can’t walk into a bar after a hard day’s work for a drink with the boys.
But this is the Middle East’s second-largest economy (after Saudi Arabia), provides the second-largest market in the region (after Egypt), and ranks second in the world in proven natural gas reserves and fourth in crude oil.
The people are friendly and the government in Tehran looks at Zimbabwe the same way the Government in Harare looks at Iran — as a friend.
Add to that an efficient and knowledgeable Zimbabwean diplomatic team led by Ambassador Nicholas Kitikiti, and you suddenly realise that the world is indeed much bigger than Texas and London.