Esther Khumalo*
BORN: Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
INTERVIEWED IN: Thembisa, South Africa
PHOTOGRAPHED BY: Madelene Cronje
* Not her real name

Esther Khumalo* grew up in Zimbabwe with a Malawian father, who always reminded her that her ancestral home was in another country. She was married with two children when her husband decided to leave Zimbabwe to seek work in South Africa. Without official identification documents from either country, she travelled to Johannesburg when she was 21. After difficulties with her husband, she became a sex worker and, for more than a decade, has been crossing the border and engaging in sex work to earn money to care for her five children.

     I don’t have a passport because my father is from Malawi. I have a Zimbabwean ID, but I’m not a Zimbabwean citizen and I’m not a Malawian citizen. It’s like I’m in between. I was born in Zimbabwe, but they say I’m not a citizen because my father is from Malawi. So, I have to apply for citizenship so that I can apply for a passport. Now, my ID’s written ‘alien’. I have to apply for citizenship so that they will cancel that ‘alien’. I still ask myself: why am I an alien if I was born in Zimbabwe?