Zimbabwean diaspora

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The Zimbabwean diaspora refers to the diaspora of immigrants from the nation of Zimbabwe. The term Rhodesian diaspora only describes a specific subset of former Rhodesian/Southern Rhodesian residents who left the country during or after the Rhodesian Bush War[citation needed].

Countries with the biggest diaspora populations include South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the United States of America.[1] There is mobility within the diaspora. For example, some Zimbabweans have moved to the UK before deciding to settle in Australia.[2]


Temporary labour migration to South Africa has long been a feature of Rhodesian and then Zimbabwean society. A 2002 survey by the Southern African Migration Project show that almost 25% of adult Zimbabweans' parents or grandparents had worked in South Africa at some point in their lives.[3] However, permanent emigration is a relatively new phenomenon. There have been two major waves of emigration from Zimbabwe. The first was that of whites in Zimbabwe who left the country soon after independence; they were followed by black Zimbabweans beginning in the 1990s. In both cases, South Africa was again their primary destination; however, from 1994 onwards, the South African government displayed increasing hostility to skilled immigration from the rest of Africa, leading Zimbabwean emigrants to seek other pastures.[4]

Overall statistics[edit]

It is estimated that there are millions of residents outside of Zimbabwe's borders who were either born in the country or are descended from immigrants; Many recent emigrants are illegally residing in other countries because of the fall of the standard of living and economic conditions in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean diaspora has a 95% literacy rate in English and a very highly educated adult population. The main languages spoken are English, Shona, and Ndebele.

By country[edit]


Zimbabweans form a significant community in Australia with their numbers having grown to over 30,000 as of 2011.[5] The community is now well established, with some of the highest incomes in the country,[6] as well as with community institutions such as Zimbabwean language schools.[7] One in three of Australia's Shona and Ndebele-speakers live in Sydney.[8][9]


There were estimated to be between forty and one hundred thousand Zimbabweans in Botswana as of 2009.[10]


The Zimbabwean community in Canada is concentrated in Toronto; Calgary; Edmonton; Hamilton, Ontario and Kitchener-Waterloo in Ontario. Vancouver; Victoria, British Columbia in British Columbia. Their numbers have been slowly but steadily increasing since 2000.[citation needed]

South Africa[edit]

There are estimated to be between one and five million Zimbabweans in South Africa as of 2008.[11]

United Kingdom[edit]

The UK Zimbabwean community is said to be close to 100,000. They are mainly concentrated in London and other urban areas.[citation needed]

United States[edit]

There are various conflicting unofficial figures about the number of Zimbabweans in the US. The RAND Corporation estimated in 2000 that there were 100,000 in the state of New York alone.[12] In contrast, a 2008 estimate from the Association of Zimbabweans Based Abroad put the population of Zimbabweans in the whole US at just 45,000.[13] They make up just a small part of the Zimbabwean diaspora compared to the larger communities in South Africa and the United Kingdom.[13] However, of Zimbabweans who have not yet emigrated but are considering it, a somewhat higher proportion state that the United States, rather than the United Kingdom, is their preferred destination; this may be due to harassment and discrimination which Zimbabweans have faced in the UK.[14]

There is a small community of Zimbabweans in Chicago, perhaps 80 to 100 people, consisting primarily of former students at area universities.[15] Other cities with Zimbabwean communities include Washington DC, New York City, Indianapolis, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Detroit.[citation needed]



  1. ^ "Zimbabwe: Diaspora remittances in decline". The Africa Report.
  2. ^ "Zimbabwe: First Family Has Low Opinion of the People". AllAfrica.
  3. ^ Tevera & Zinyama 2002, p. 2
  4. ^ Tevera & Zinyama 2002, p. 3
  5. ^ http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/statistics/comm-summ/_pdf/zimbabwe.pdf
  6. ^ "Irish among Australia's best paid workers". Irish Echo.
  7. ^ "Learning parents' language helps keep culture alive". SBS.
  8. ^ http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/ABSNavigation/prenav/ViewData?action=404&documentproductno=105&documenttype=Details&order=1&tabname=Details&areacode=105&issue=2006&producttype=Census%20Tables&javascript=true&textversion=false&navmapdisplayed=true&breadcrumb=POLTD&&collection=Census&period=2006&productlabel=Language%20Spoken%20at%20Home%20(full%20classification%20list)%20by%20Sex&producttype=Census%20Tables&method=Place%20of%20Usual%20Residence&topic=Language&
  9. ^ http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/ABSNavigation/prenav/ViewData?action=404&documentproductno=0&documenttype=Details&order=1&tabname=Details&areacode=0&issue=2006&producttype=Census%20Tables&javascript=true&textversion=false&navmapdisplayed=true&breadcrumb=POLTD&&collection=Census&period=2006&productlabel=Country%20of%20Birth%20of%20Person%20(full%20classification%20list)%20by%20Sex&producttype=Census%20Tables&method=Place%20of%20Usual%20Residence&topic=Birthplace&
  10. ^ Betts & Kaytaz 2009, p. 17
  11. ^ Polzer 2008, p. 6
  12. ^ Firger, Jessica (2008-05-13), "The Heartbeat of Africa in New York", New York Daily News, retrieved 2009-04-18
  13. ^ a b "Returning will take more than politics", IRIN News, retrieved 2009-04-18
  14. ^ Tevera & Crush 2003, pp. 19–20
  15. ^ Steffes 2005


External links[edit]