I first met Rosemary Maiya on my maiden trip to Zimbabwe in 2004.
If I was impressed by the ‘can-do’ attitude of Martha, then I could immediately see where it came from!
‘Gogo Rosie’ was organised, efficient, strong and kind. She insisted that we have her room to stay in for as long as we wanted to. Nothing was too much trouble.
One of my favourite memories is that once Gogo had found out what my favourite food was, I got it every morning for breakfast- egg and chips!
She could never quite understand why I didn’t eat meat.
There have been so many occasions when Gogo has been strong for Martha and I in the past. There are far too many to mention.
I learned, later on that she had been a war veteran in the war for independence against the Rhodesian forces. Her job was to look after the troops who were in hiding in the bush and to clear up after the bloody battles between the two armies.
This explained a lot, especially why she was so highly regarded in the village.
All of these things were invaluable to Martha and I when we were setting up Love Zimbabwe as a charity.
She provided us with accommodation which we could not afford otherwise. We could not possibly have stayed so long at a time when we needed to, to be able to set up the community centre.
Gogo sourced the land for us to create the centre, which is at the heart of the charity.
She made sure that we got the approval of Chief Chinamhora who also respected her a great deal.
Without this blessing nothing could have happened. She was also held in high regard by all of the local headmen and the police. All of this made it possible for us to operate from the centre.
When someone objected to us being there, Gogo personally went to see them to sort it out. They came to see her point of view!
With this solid base in Zimbabwe which has become an oasis of peace and tranquillity, we could focus on building the charity back in the UK.
Every time we visited, Gogo would put us up until we finally had the money to build a traditional hut that we could sleep in.
She sourced and transported all of the posts, wire and cement to construct a fence around the perimeter which saved us a great deal of money.
When we were in the UK she helped Martha’s sons, Taurai and Tafadzwa to look after the centre. She would make sure that everything we had constructed and all of the materials on site were secure and not spirited away in our absence.
As time went on, Gogo was always there to help when we brought visitors to the centre, organising food, drinks and entertainment when needed.
Without her, there would be no Love Zimbabwe charity. She was absolutely instrumental in helping us create the organisation.
If any proof were needed of Gogo’s influence, her funeral was attended by over 400 people.
Dignitaries included the local MP, all of the headmen and many more. The Chief is traditionally not allowed to attend funerals, but he helped with all of the preparations and has continued to help subsequently. A mark of total respect for Rosemary Maiya.
Sleep well, Gogo Rosie.
Love from David Holman (Chinamhora).