Lifestyle & Arts

Zimbabwe’s race relations healthy – as man (88) serves Italian family for over 70 years  

By Jacqueline Muchazoreka and Evenmore Kamombe

MUTARE – The story of Angelina Brescasia and her servant Manuel Vhulande sets itself from the tired tales of adversarial race relations.

From colonial straight up to independent Zimbabwe the 94-year-old-widow has maintained strong ties with her 88-year-old servant for over 70 years now.

She even finds solace in the company of her Kekeroni, as she puts it.

Enduring loyalty

Manuel Vhulande, 88, and his employer Angelina Brescasia, 94, have forged a relationship that demonstrates that race relations are healthy among ordinary Zimbabweans

“I have my Kekeroni here, he is like my son up to date l don’t need anything because he knows what I need, this one,” Angelina said with a smile.

Angelina lives in a small apartment in Mutare’s central business district. She settled here about 70 years ago when she settled in the then Rhodesia with her husband from Italy.

He was a tailor, one she says was “the best in the country all his years”.

Vhulande started working for them as a teenager and has faithfully served her until now.

With her husband they sired two children, a boy and a girl.

Sadly she lost her husband in the 1950’s and was left to fend for her kindergarten going son and two months old daughter.

During these hard times Vhulande who at one point had a 13 membered family of his own to fend for maintained loyalty to his late employer and continued serving the family he left behind.

Loyal servant

Loyal servant – Manuel Vhulande has served Angelina Brescasia for over 70 years

“I could not leave my boss’s wife alone after all the good things they had both done for me.

“I helped her to raise both children, I would bath and take her boy to crèche and I watched him grow even to the time he went to fight in the war,” he said.

Angelina who had dealt with the pain of separating with her husband faced the same tremor when her children left the country.

Her son moved to South Africa while her daughter moved to Italy.

“My son is in South Africa with his wife and children.

“My daughter is now based in Italy, you see she goes to Europe to carry women but l ask her why can’t you come to Africa to carry your mama but,” she shrugs her shoulders and resumes after a long pause, “you see in Europe she earns a lot of money and here at my age what can I give her, nothing.”

As Angelina was left living alone over the years Vhulande made her forget she was living alone as he became the company she needed to get by and survive as she aged.

“To me company is more important than anything in life so he comes here around 8 in the morning and goes around 4 pm he goes to his house there because he has his own family and they need him. At 4 pm l close everything and go to sleep.

“I appreciate his presence every day because we sit here and talk and time passes quickly when you are with someone,” Angelina said.

Sometimes the pair cut an odd picture as they are seen ambling hand in hand around Angelina’s apartment – giving her the exercise she needs to keep her body in shape.

At 94, Angelina is fine shape.

She does not need help from someone when walking neither does she use a walking stick.

Her only complaint she has is with her failing memory.

“The thing is at this age this is no longer working properly is (she points to her head). I can talk but I may not remember what I say.

“It is slowly getting empty. When people come I like so much but I have trouble remembering them when they return. But I like it when people always visit because that will help my memory,” she said.

It is apparent that there are a few important people that Angelina will never forget, that is her late husband, son, daughter and Manuel her loyal Kekeroni.

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