Thursday, November 1, 2007

The great trek - in search of the £!

The Times of London had on Monday this week, an interesting headline-

House price gloom as the wealthy turn away.

House prices fell for the first time in two years this month, sending a shudder through millions of homeowners already hit by rising mortgage repayments and more expensive borrowing.
The outlook for homeowners is likely to worsen with news that the wealthy are losing confidence in bricks and mortar as an investment.

So as I reflect, on some of my conversations with the Zambian Diaspora in London, at the independence concert. I remember asking the extent of property ownership among Zambians in London, the answer to my inquiry could not have been more emphatic “we came here for the £”. Apparently, here as in the US, the greatest preoccupation for most Zambians abroad, is making money, more and more of it, by means of wages or salaried employment. Few Zambians have invested in real estate, perhaps with good reason the strain of rising mortgage payments, is too great a burden to add to a life, already rigged with stress. The standard of living may be high in the west but the prices is the loss of a better quality of life, the better work/life balance that we are generally, accustomed to in Zambia. So those abroad work hard and sacrifice weekends off, to pay the cost of a higher standard of living – Oyster cards, countless TV channels, multi feature phones, better health care etc. In most cases, after paying for these things, there is hardly any money for a mortgage payment. It is however, easy to send a few hundred pounds, back home every month and have someone trustworthy build one a house there, instead.
And so, like the Boers north-east migration in the 19th century, the great trek of Zambians to the UK and elsewhere in search of the poundie, will go on.

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