My life changed for the better the day I heard I was going to be retrenched. I was working as a transaction clerk in Harare. When the currency was dollarised, my job became redundant.
I tried to look for work but it was difficult. So I came to South Africa in 2009 to look for a job and found myself here, working in the CBD as a receptionist — and operating an antique elevator.
It’s one of the oldest lifts in Cape Town and people come here just to see it. They want to experience it because it’s still manually operated. So I give them a ride a few floors up.
With work, I could also find another love — reading. This fed my interest in African literature and history, and I started thinking about my own stories. So I started writing.
My first book was about the ongoing conflict between South Africans and refugees from other countries. I then decided to pen my own story, The Exodus Down South, to help people understand why we come from our own countries to South Africa. And I wanted people to see how we are living in this country.
I also have a collection of short stories, poetry and I’m working on another novella.
Getting retrenched opened up a lot of doors for me. Without that day I would never have been in South Africa and I would never have written my book. — Receptionist, lift operator and author, Oswald Kucherera, 33, as told to Lester Kiewit