For junior Gerald Rusere, returning to his native Zimbabwe was like being immersed in a completely different land, he said during a Nov. 17 presentation in Jonasson Hall.
He explained how he revisited his homeland, experiencing new tastes and sounds and being overwhelmed by culture shock.
He said his favorite ethnic food, a type of polenta, was no longer delicious. It had been a long time since he had heard the spoken language of Shona and Ndebele, too, and in many ways, felt like he lost touch with his people, Rusere said.
“It was quite an experience to use the public transportation in Zimbabwe,” he said, articulating to the audience his struggle with trying to figure out the currency to take a cab. Nonetheless, Rusere said he enjoyed his experience at the World Cup and shared his trip down memory lane.
Rusere said the strange trip back to Africa opened his eyes. He said he believed that the people were unified because of their common interest in soccer, particularly in big soccer games, such as those at the World Cup. People from all over the world came to Zimbabwe to see the big game, filling the stadium with more than 56,000 avid fans. In the urban areas of Zimbabwe, people took a half-day off to see the match on television or listen to it on the radio.
“I can only describe the atmosphere of the sheer euphoria,” Rusere said regarding the first World Cup match ever played in Africa.
The nation of excited fans, who had waited 76 years to see this event, was absolutely crazy over the match up, he said.
“It was interesting to see people from all nations” Rusere said, showing the audience a video of cameras panning over the crowds. “Soccer is the most beautiful game.”
The stadium, which is the ninth of its kind in Africa, features state-of-the-art seating and passage. The crowds it brings are also driving much of the tourism in Zimbabwe, which, in turn, benefits the developing country’s economy.
“I was taken by the iconic architecture of the stadium,” he said.
Sophomore Alex Grant, a player on Linfield’s varsity soccer team, said he thought it was interesting that soccer was so popular in Zimbabwe.
“Its cool that soccer is being represented here [Zimbabwe]. In America, many people don’t play or observe the sport as serious,” Grant said.
During his trip, Rusere also visited the ghettos and said he was emotionally taken by the differences in living standards in Zimbabwe and America. But he assured everybody that Zimbabwe is a safe place to live.
He also showed photos he took of the Victorian Falls, capturing the wonder he said he felt upon staring into the mystical waters.
Robin Fahy/For the Review
Robin Fahy can be reached at email@example.com.