As excited as I was to go back to Zambia after leaving at 14, eager and ready to go I tell you. Followed the procedure, bought the round trip tickets, proof of residency, fees paid and all the things necessary to travel to the beautiful country of Zambia. At 20-something and traveling alone, all the nerves and excitement of adventure was soaking in me. All that was left y’all, was the visa. The visa to be allowed into the country and finally get to the place I once called home. See to get your visa into Zambia you need a couple of things; the application, the place you will live while in the country, application fee, passport and a couple more pieces of evidence. So I collected them, placed them in the hands of the post office and prepaid the return package and paid extra so that it is signed by someone at the Zambian Embassy within the US. I sent that beautiful package in early April, a month away from my flight. So it had ample time to reject or provide my visa. This will cut lines, make it easy peezy, lemon squeezy you know.
I received my passport and visa FOUR DAYS before I had to leave! FOUR DAYS! And the only reason got that shit back because I bombarded them with calls for two weeks asking for updates and had proof of who signed for it. Multiple times I was told they didn’t have the package, the package didn’t contain the application fee, they found it and were still working on it. At one instance, I called the embassy and was told that it was not the time to call, because everyone was on their lunch, to call later. And I would have been fine with that, disregarding the fact that they don’t have this information on there site but I digress. Instead with an attitude told me like it was expected, like it was a matter of fact. Lady on the phone said after I complain to be been calling and no one is answering and their is no form of a voicemail. She said, “Don’t you know we go for lunch? It’s lunch time.” Well must be nice there ma’am but do you all stop everything and everyone goes to lunch at the same time. Their professionalism was disappointing and it was messed up that I had to advocate for myself to send back my passport with or without the visa. Reminding them that I know they took the application and I knew who signed off the package and I will use all my resources to get to the bottom of it. Because I had five days left and they kept falsifying that is wasn’t received. It resorted to asking the post office to verify that the embassy’s human hands received. Looked at the embassy’s site and saw that the individual does exist in that space. On the phone demanding my passport to be sent it back. It was sent the next day in the morning to arrive at the third day before I left. My empty threats proved its existence and low and behold, I got it back, with it approved to finally head back after half a decade.
Imagine I had to beg and yell at respective workers representing it’s government to either reject or accept my application but don’t hold my passport from me questioning if I’ll ever receive it. Wondering what rights I have and how I can find the missing passport, my identification lost in transition. To then wondering if they are worker’s using my identity, keeping my passport for an alternative reason, wondering what else can keep it there for this long? I was even more dumbfounded after I received it, the shit was approved in fucking April, why in the actual fuck did you keep it and have deal with distraught person. And this my theory, here me out. They approved my visa and then lost it in the piles of disorganized requests or applications embassies receive. Perhaps staff aren’t held accountable, they don’t receive or entertain feedback and only work when they are supervised. Calls are not monitored or recorded, they don’t have a system to see the bullshit they are doing and are not keeping up with the reviews. This was my first experience interacting with the country and it’s frustrating to deal with, recently a friend was heading to Zambia for an important event that required her attendance and they did the same shit two years later. But instead they ignored her and she missed her flight, they held her passport hostage for a month too and the myriad of empty threats didn’t work. They claimed to deny giving her the visa because she was rude asking for her passport back. Sent back the passport empty and she took the risk heading to Zambia obtaining the visa at their airport. And yes she made it, but it caused stress, cost her a lot to repurchase a ticket because of their discrepancies.
And I have heard and read of many African embassies in the USA and many other western countries that seem to have bad communication, organization and customer service skills. It gets as bad as flying to another country for a better embassy to receive a visa because their incapability to do their job. I know embassies are a foreign government but how can one urge for change, for basic communication skills and prompt workers. My father also had to call everyday before he left in 2015, I had to call in 2017, and 2019 nothing has changed. They don’t care and will continue to fuck with people’s lives and continue to be shit. So, if you are African like me and have heard that your embassy is trash, look that shit up, create a disaster plan, get the visa in the country of destination and get insurance for your flights. Take control of your passport and travels, don’t let them get away with unprofessional-ism. Because you know better and they should know better.
Thank you for reading Lovelies!
Leave a comment below, if you went through the same thing, will be traveling and if its not only the Zambian Embassy in the US that needs to improve?