Gappah dreams of a Zim civil service job

HARARE - Award-winning writer Petina Gappah, who launched her latest and third book “Rotten Row” a month ago, plans to plans to join the Zimbabwean civil service after an imminent year-long writing fellowship in Berlin, Germany.

Gappah, a respected international lawyer, is keen to help Zimbabwe negotiate trade deals with the international community.

“I am off to Berlin as planned, to finish book 4 and maybe 5 and 6. After that, it is back to Harare! I will do what I had originally planned to do when I studied international law back in 1998. I will apply to join the foreign ministry or the trade ministry. I have always been an international civil servant, now I hope to be a national one,” the award-winning writer posted of Facebook.

Gappah, who until recently was working for the Geneva-based the Advisory Centre on WTO Law (ACWL), wants to help Zimbabwe negotiate its future relationship with post Brexit-United Kingdom.

“Brexit also forced me to reassess my plans. I had a plan to spend a year in Berlin, on my writing fellowship, then join my son who is at school in Scotland, stay five years there until he finished school in 2020.

“Thanks to Brexit that plan was derailed. Then Trump happened. I am not vain or self-centred enough to believe these things happened to teach me something, but I did learn something from them, which is that I will have no country other than my own.

“I have the one country… There will never be another country whose politics I care about as much as mine, or indeed whose politics and public policy I can affect,” she wrote.

The low salaries associated with Zimbabwe’s civil service don’t seem discourage the award-winning writer and lawyer.

“So, unless I am offered an under-sectaryship in the UN or something crazy like that, after Berlin, I plan to submit my application to the Public Service Commission.

“If they don't take me, too bad. I will just continue applying until they do. They do not call me Chandagwinyira for nothing.

“In a few years, I hope to be drawing my 500 dollars a month salary, working out of Munhumutapa or Mkwati building, complaining about no Christmas bonus,” wrote Gappah.

Before her envisaged return to Zimbabwe to join the civil service, she hopes to fulfill a long-held writing ambition.

“2016 is the year I became just one book away from my ambition (not dream, I am past the dream stage) to be a writer. I have always believed that I could not really call myself a writer until I had four  books down, because the fourth  book is the one that will tell me whether I am a writer of any worth or not,” said Gappah.

In addition to “Rotten Row,” Gappah, who has law degrees from the University of Zimbabwe, the University of Cambridge and the University of Graz, has also written two other internationally-acclaimed books. Her first book “An Elegy for Easterly” won the Guardian First Book Award in 2009 while her second ‘The Book of Memory’ continues to receive rave reviews.

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