In recognition of multi-sited and dynamic diaspora formation, this article explores the relationship between significant (yet limited and differentially experienced) political change and emotional geographies for those outside of their country of birth. We do this with reference to the removal of President Robert Mugabe from power, as experienced by first-generation Zimbabwean migrants, asking if and how ‘change’ has been experienced and felt, but also what such responses do through what we call diasporic reorientations. This helps us to think through emotional alignments with/to Zimbabwe, as part of practical trajectories already under formation, but reinforced, exacerbated and in some cases reconfigured. We discuss how participants understood and navigated contested notions of ‘change’ with attention to the ambiguous co-existence of celebration, uncertainty, scepticism and tentative hopefulness. We then highlight the significance, complexity and unevenness of diasporic reorientations, through intentions, desires and experiences of return. In so doing we contribute to debates around the significance of emotional spatialities and temporalities in the re-construction of diasporic subjectivities, through and despite of such ‘change’.