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18 June 2014
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Immigration and Emigration
Zimbabwe – or was it Rhodesia?

A heavy heart

Robert Mugabwe’s regime took over in 1980, and Brian was appointed the first Registrar-General of Zimbabwe, responsible for voting, elections, citizenship, passports, births, marriages and deaths, and for national registration - the system of national identity cards.

Brian had an onerous task to take on, which was not helped when his Minister, Joshua Nkomo, whom he had listened to so intently 32 years earlier, announced that "everybody could have a passport", irrespective of whether one was needed or not.
Brian and Averil now enjoy their retirement in Gloucestershire, but with fond yet sad memories
Brian and Averil now enjoy their retirement in Gloucestershire, but with fond yet sad memories
© Brian Oliver
Overnight possession of a passport became a status symbol among all Zimbabweans – the work was relentless.

"When I was finally medically boarded out of the Civil Service after 18 months and a heart attack, I thought I had failed because it was now taking three weeks to provide a passport instead of two. But, the last time I enquired in Zimbabwe, I found it was now taking up to a year, and, if a passport was required earlier, palms had to be greased.

"For health reasons, I returned to Gloucestershire, England with a heavy heart. My second wife, Averil, who had also worked in the Prime Minister’s Office, was with me. On a physical level we settled in quite well despite being unable to bring anything out of Zimbabwe with us- only a little money and the bags we could carry on the plane. We are glad that we are back in a country where speech is free, public administration is on the whole efficient and not corrupt and where living standards are stable.

"But, we miss the sunshine, the wide open spaces and the brilliance of the sky at night with the Milky Way so bright and clear; and our hearts are still very much in Zimbabwe, or should I say Rhodesia, with the African bush and its people which I learned to love."

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Your comments

1 Volker from Cape Town - 5 January 2004
"a wonderful story ,but living in rhodesia road in cape town ,I think it is time to acknowledge Zimbabwe as a name. well , I will see when our little street is getting changed "

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