Alice Chigumera

Born: 15th May 1965

Harare, Zimbabwe

Date of interview: 31st May 2006

Map showing where Alice Chigumera came from

Is that Kings Road in Reading ?

Yes Kings Road in Reading, that's where I'm a member of the Methodist church. So, well we carried on after that and came back, I stayed in Harare continuously and I bought myself a house where I rented it out and still sub-letted the place, sub-let it so that it could give a legal income to my mum. In Harare I was also staying with a family sharing a house with a. who then became like my Godmother.

They looked after me very, very well because my mother never believed that I was not married and had a child, and I still continued having a relationship with the father of my child, but they thought that I, in our culture you can't live with a man without being married so you have to live with some elderly people to instil certain values and that, so I continued living with them for some time whilst still working in the Presidents' office, sorry in the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

By the end of I think it was just immediately when I get back, when I came back from maternity leave, I was told that I was going to be transferred to the Presidents' office for no apparent reason and this was something that really no-one could tell, even the higher offices. I wanted to find out why and they said it was something to do with the re-structure within the Minister of Foreign Affairs and I give my case because I still wanted to go on another posting and do all the other things that were there, but before then it was decided that I should get posted again and I was then told to go to Mozambique, that was in 19th September 1992.

That's when I went to Mozambique from 1992 up to '97 January, when I came back again.

During the time between the time '92 when I get back to my child and the end of '92 before I get posted, I had the privilege, well I did refuse in the first instance, but I think it was a privilege on my own way, to work with the Vice President of Zimbabwe, the late Simon Muzenda, worked in his office for almost less, than a year. By then Zimbabwe was in a devastating state because of the drought so I was more or less like a personal assistant, advisory on what to do about trying to find more food for the people, dealing with donors, going out in the villages to find out what people, accompanying him, finding out what people do, programmes about GMB, how food was distributed properly to every single person in the country. It was quite a very challenging post at that time and I really enjoyed it, I had the experience of meeting so many great people who did quite a lot to Zimbabwe at that time, during the drought period and really travelled quite a lot an he was a fatherly figure to me who made me see a lot of views.

Up to now I'm finding him as a person who was a fatherly figure, who never used to show that being a Vice President I have power to do certain things and instilled a lot of valuable things to younger children who would come thinking, because they are related to him and could get them jobs, he would tell them to go and get an education first and then go to the normal channels and apply and get jobs. I mean being a Vice President it's a simple phone call in my country just to say give him a job, but he never used to do that, he was a person who, during lunchtime he would sit in his office and make a cup of tea, he would eat 'umqutshu', what we call 'umqutshu' in my language nothing fancy, bread with some jam, that's all done, even if he's invited for dinner or lunch in anyway, he's not that kind of person who keep on eating all these other things. He used to love his village, he used to come from, so every Friday he would go to his village, be a village peasant or sometimes we would accompany him and see what he does and bred a lot of pigs, cows and everything, he was just a human person. I think I'd equate him to what we call Joshua Nkomo, people who had values for people, who would walk in the street and they never needed a bodyguard.

When I left for Mozambique in 1992, I went to Mozambique when it was the hardest part of it all. It was unfortunate for me also Yugoslavia was a hard posting, what we call a hardship posting and Mozambique again was a hardship posting, because it was the time when Romano went Frelimo heavy. The war that had gone on for almost over ten years, the country was devastated, buildings were all gone, running water was not there, there was absolutely nothing there. They were still negotiating to come to a peace agreement and the then President managed to do a peaceful agreement with Nkomo, which settled things a little bit, but to build up the infrastructure and make things work was not all that easy. We used to travel every Friday or Saturday to go shopping to Swaziland which is about fifty kilometres from Maputo to do our shopping because I still had, my daughter was about eight months and so ...