What About Staff?


I’ve been trying to organize this space, whose size and contents are becoming of a nature almost making it only relevant to myself and a very few others. I wasn’t happy with the categories and tags I had previously set, so I changed everything. As someone connected with the media, I organized them around the usual: Who? Where? What?


I am not happy yet, but then that’s my usual posture towards what I do. Who and where correspond now to my categories. Before I was systematically signaling people and places as categories. Now I have to be more specific. When I want to refer to people I have to specify (i. e. Seabell if I talk about me or Sea People if I talk about Mozambicans or any nice people living in Mozambique). I have to be more precise in terms of places too. And my tags show the subjects (What?) interesting me or peripherally surfacing in what I write.


As I talk from time to time about people working to make our private lives more comfortable, I’ve been facing a dilemma. First I created two categories: Chefs and Guards. I wasn’t happy for two reasons: 1) I don’t know that number of chefs and even if I know a few I don’t intend to write about them. 2) Guards might exclude driver-mechanic Armindo.


Because of that I face now the doubt of including them in a new category (Staff) or, as I would never regard any work as diminishing, especially towards people closely working for me and my family, in a existing one (Friends).


My chef Tieta cooks, irons and cleans the kitchen area. She works for us since April 2002. She raises all by herself three children and a grandson (respectively aged 17, 12, 10 and 2). She was a grandmother when most women are still considering the option of having children. She has a straightforward character and, despite having a boyfriend (He is not the one, definitively!), she dreams of finding a man who would marry her.


George is with us for almost ten years. He started working with Andy before becoming our guard. He is a hard-working man with an exceptional good-temperament. He is married and has two daughters (12 and almost 2 years old). I was afraid the youngest could have health problems, but when  I finally met her, in December 2008, I discovered she is just a little shy and wonderful child. Besides security, George is good at gardening, painting, electricity and plumbing. A truly handyman.


Albert is our black sheep. He was born in Zambezia and has a few personal problems of his own. He works as a guard and helps in the housekeeping. He must be here since 97. He is married, with no children and very religious. I suspect that his weakness is drinking. It’s a current problem here. His behavior gets worse or better depending on his family life and his family life depends on how much he drinks. That’s why we keep asking him how things are doing. Just in case…


Americo is new blood. He works closely with Andy but, step-by-step, he is being integrated in our daily routines, so I think I won’t be wrong if I include him as a guard, besides driver and mechanic. At the moment he has been daytime substituting George who went to Xai-Xai on holidays. He has two daughters (15 and 5) and we suspect that he has three wives. At least.


In reality, I should include the four of them as friends, but as I was writing this I understood that for categorizing reasons I’ll maintain Chefs and Guards and cut the somehow impersonal, cold “staff”. Actually, they all cook. Even Americo, the driver, has been insisting in cooking a Mozambican curry for us. Meantime, I might consider writing about a few others chefs.


Additional Information: If you live or intend to live in Mozambique, I advise you to talk with someone you trust about the local employment procedures. Most people have just one person doing the housework, and if they live in a detached or semi-detached house they have to consider the guards too. The wages for domestic workers are now around or above USD100 and for a driver above US200. It doesn’t seem much, but if you remember that they eat precisely the same food we eat (although this is not very common here), have medical assistance and other benefits, you should consider US600 to US1000 to keep three people working in your house.


3 thoughts on “What About Staff?

  1. It was nice reading about those who help make your life easier or more complicated, depending on the point of view!

    I should make a post about our Chefs and Guards… me, DH and Bob… all caring for princess Ila. Wages: a few smiles and some kicks *winks*

  2. Maybe I should explain the need of guards… Security has been a growing concern since the 80s. Some people opt for contracts with security companies, mostly because of efficiency and also to avoid the burden of directly employing people. On the contrary, in a country where the unemployment represents 70 to 80 per cent of the population, I guarantee that giving a chance to someone is important and very welcomed. Giving opportunities, even at home level, is the right thing to do around here. The contrary feels like you are not reaching out, especially if you can.

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