The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
As the country comes to grips with economic challenges, young students learning outside the country have also felt the pinch brought by the tightening of belts at home and one of those unfortunate young people is Fanyana Dube Jnr, the son of legendary musician Fanyana Dube.
Before he died in 2004, Dube left an indelible mark on the Zimbabwean music scene. The talented guitarist, composer and saxophonist made his mark with the Jairos Jiri Sunrise Kwela Kings before joining the Jobs Connection. During his illustrious career, he rubbed shoulders with other greats like Lovemore Majaivana while he also paid his dues in South African music circles where his last album was recorded.
Ever since he passed away, the Dube family has had financial struggles, with the late musician’s wife revealing that they had struggled to make ends meet. At one point, the family was reportedly wallowing in poverty and struggled to put a roof over their heads. While the first few years after the death of the musician were particularly hard, the going has not been easy for Emily Dube as her children grow older.
According to the wife of the legendary musician, getting money for the school fees of her children had been a tall order. However, there had been a silver lining after well-wishers at her church had recognised the brilliance of her eldest son, Fanyana Jnr, and started helping with his school fees.
Through his sheer hard work and determination, the young Dube has managed to defy the odds and is now studying Electronic Engineering at the University of Science and Technology of Houari Boumediene in Algiers, Algeria. His mother, who still lives in Kwekwe, survives on vending.
However, the life of a student is never easy and this is particularly so for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Fanyana Jnr revealed that life had been less than rosy for himself and other students in Algeria, as the hardships had piled on them over the last few months.
“It’s become tough, especially for those who came on this scholarship because they couldn’t afford varsity so they have debts and are struggling to take care of themselves,” he told Sunday Life.
Dube said life was especially harsh on those from poor backgrounds who had to really on handouts from Zimbabwean expatriates in Algeria. He said life was somewhat better for those that had parents that could afford to cushion them while they studied in the North African nation.
“Yeah, it’s tough, living expenses aren’t as costly as in most other countries so people just receive money from back home from their parents but those with a poor financial background struggle, they have to ask the Embassy (of Zimbabwe) people to help them. It’s not done officially but they just like to help with their own money because wanenge wakutoonawo kuti mwana uyu is struggling financially and it’s really tough especially on girls. Sometimes friends help too . . . it’s just survival,” he said.
Fanyana Jnr said what compounded the situation was that they faced arrest if they found work, as it went against the condition of their scholarships.
“Personally, I’ve eyes on the ground, it’s not good here. We can’t exactly find jobs and work because by law it’s not allowed like we haven’t got work permits or anything of that sort,” he said.
While his own condition was dire, Dube revealed that it was even worse for female students, as some now had turned to prostitution so as to make ends meet.
“It’s really tough on girls too, they become easy targets and are vulnerable, you know. Basically that’s the issue,” he revealed.
Dube revealed that because of the strict conditions of labour for immigrants in Algeria, most students had turned into informal labourers in that country, with some slaving away on construction sites for relatively little pay. However, even this was a hazard for the students, as they were not promised any compensation if anything should go wrong while they worked since they were working outside the bounds of law.
“Yeah, it’s not formal work. You know it’s like working in construction sites, etc. It’s labour work, (but) anything can go wrong and (it) can’t be reported because it’s basically illegal,” he said.