Zimbabwean Americans

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Zimbabwean Americans
Zimbabwe United States
Total population
14,657 (Zimbabwean ancestry or ethnic origin; 2015 American Community Survey)[1]
19,000 (Zimbabwean-born, 2008-2012; American Community Survey Briefs) [2]
Regions with significant populations
British English and American English

Zimbabwean Americans are Americans of full or partial Zimbabwean ancestry. The Zimbabwean communities are localized, between other places, in California and Texas.


The first great wave of immigration from Rhodesia (modern-day Zimbabwe) took place during and after the Rhodesian Bush War in the 1970s, a time when many White Rhodesian families emigrated due to political and economic conditions.[3] Although initially they emigrated to neighboring South Africa, because they shared English language and heritage, and the United Kingdom, the former colonial power, subsequently they increasingly emigrated to the United States and Australia, countries that, like the above, shared language and heritage.[4] Following the independence of Zimbabwe from the UK in 1980, these immigrants identified themselves as Rhodesians, united by their shared struggles experienced during the Bush War.[5]

In the 1980s, a second group of people from Zimbabwe came to the United States, mostly students that returned to their country after completing their studies. This emigration of students was increased in the 1990s and included both White and Black people. Due to their limited and extremely competitive university system, many Zimbabwean students emigrated to other countries seeking educational opportunities, especially in business and technology. Unlike earlier Zimbabwean students, many in the 1990s decided to remain in the United States after completing their studies, given the negative economic situation in Zimbabwe and the job opportunities that they could find in the United States. Thus, the majority of Zimbabweans who migrate to the United States are students and young professionals.[6]


In 2014, the Zimbabwean population in the U.S. was noted as one of "a strong skilled and non-skilled diaspora population" that is also focused in South Africa, the UK and Australia.[7] Thus, Zimbabweans in the U.S. make up just a small part of the Zimbabwean diaspora compared to the larger communities in South Africa and the United Kingdom.[8] 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.[9]

There are various conflicting unofficial figures about the number of Zimbabweans in the U.S. The RAND Corporation estimated in 2000 that there were 100,000 in the state of New York alone.[10] In contrast, a 2008 estimate from the Association of Zimbabweans Based Abroad put the population of Zimbabweans in the whole U.S. at just 45,000.[8]

There is a small community of Zimbabweans in Chicago, perhaps 80 to 100 people, consisting primarily of former students at area universities.[11] Other cities with Zimbabwean communities include: Washington, D.C., New York City, Indianapolis, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Detroit.


There is an important organization in Indianapolis of Zimbabwean having annual celebrations of Independence Day (April 18) and other events, such as the first Annual Convention and Business Expo Zimbabwe in 2002. Due to the limited success of the Zimbabwean living in Chicago to create organizations (because their community is dispersed through the city), they have formed ties with the organization of Zimbabwe in Indianapolis.[6] Other Zimbabwean association is the Zimbabwe-United States of America Alumni Association (ZUSAA).[12]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "People Reporting Ancestry, 2012 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, United States Census Bureau". Archived from the original on 2017-05-25. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  2. ^ "The Foreign-Born Population From Africa: 2008–2012" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  3. ^ Ottaway, David B. (18 December 1978). "More Rhodesian Whites Seek Greener Pastures Abroad". Washington Post. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  4. ^ King, Tony (2003). "Rhodesians in kyperspace". In Karim Haiderali, Karim (ed.). The Media of Diaspora. Psychology Press. pp. 177–178. ISBN 9780415279307. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  5. ^ Uusihakala, Katja (12 February 2008). Memory Meanders: Place, Home and Commemoration in an Ex-Rhodesian Diaspora Community (PDF) (Academic Dissertation). University of Helskinki. p. 49. OCLC 435374612. Docket Research series in anthropology. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
    Josiah Brownell (30 October 2010). Collapse of Rhodesia: Population Demographics and the Politics of Race. I.B.Tauris. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-85771-889-1.
  6. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Chicago: Zimbabweans in Chicago Archived August 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Tracy Steffes. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
  7. ^ "Zimbabwe: Diaspora remittances in decline". The Africa Report.
  8. ^ a b "Returning will take more than politics". IRIN News. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
  9. ^ Tevera & Crush 2003, pp. 19–20
  10. ^ Firger, Jessica (2008-05-13). "The Heartbeat of Africa in New York". Daily News (New York). Retrieved 2009-04-18.
  11. ^ Steffes 2005
  12. ^ Embassy of the United States: Harare Zimbabwe