were born in Mozambique.
I was born in Mozambique. I was there until I was 11 years old.
memories do you still have of there?
Good ones, very good ones (she laughs). I was born in Vila Pery – now Chimoio – and when I was three years old, I went to live in Manica, which was very close to the border with Rhodesia. I attended school until the 1st year of the ciclo (what you’d call year 5 today). I came to Portugal in 1974.
you ever been back to Mozambique?
No. But I would really love to go back there, to show my family where I lived.
Do you remember playing with children there?
I remember. There is so much that is still so vivid. That’s why it’s sad to go on to Google Maps to try to see it and realise that it is badly damaged, that the streets have no tarmac... Differently from the past. It was a town like Freixo; small, but it had everything.
then you came here (Freixo)...
When I got here, my parents and I went to Lagoaça. And, as we entered that village, and saw all those low houses, all out in stone, my reaction was very bad. As soon as I got to the entrance of that village, I said to my father: «I’m not staying here!»
don’t think that way now though?
No, perish the thought! I wouldn’t change this for anything. But it was the shock, the contrast, there was just no comparison. Then, for a long time, and even today, I don’t speak much about my childhood, because people didn’t understand very well. There was that thing of «you’ve come back» thing. No, I haven’t come back, I’m a refugee, I haven’t returned – because I was born there – but that’s what they were all called: ‘returnees’.
caused you to study management?
Ever since I was little, in Mozambique, I had been influenced by a lady who worked in a bank. My father would send me to the bank, with his messages, and I loved going. There were men working there, and a single young woman, who was Luísa, and I, I don’t know why, would look at her and imagine myself there, like her. I remember one night the manager of the bank, Senhor Ferreirinha, was at our house (Mozambique) and I told him: «When I grow up I want to go to work for the bank like Luísa», and my father saying no, and me saying yes! I cried my eyes out because my father was against me.
going against your father’s wishes, you studied management?
I was a bank clerk. When I was in Freixo, giving classes the Caixa Geral de Depósitos advertised a job. Well, I applied and I got the job. I was chosen from the 48 applicants.
see yourself in Luísa’s shoes (from the bank in Mozambique)?
Yes, because I was the only woman there, in the middle of men.
did your father say?
My father was very happy because I got where I wanted to go and he was very proud of me.
do Céu showed him that she could do it...
Yes... (she gets emotional).
left banking for politics...
I never imagined reaching retirement having always done the same thing. In the meantime, a few years ago, at a change in term of office, I thought about what was going to happen «this mayor is going to ruin everything». Because until then the council had a very good financial department, and then he (the new mayor) started screwing everything up. The council’s financial department started to get in a very bad state, and now it will still take some time to recover. It was that state, and the desire to do something that got me excited about politics. In the 2009 local elections, the PSD candidate invited me to be on the Municipal Council list, despite me having no ties with the party and at the time supporting the ‘other side’. In these circumstances I had to make a decision, but always from an honest perspective, both with those who were inviting me and with the people on the list to which I belonged. I was adamant: «I have been made an offer and I am going to accept it». Everyone supported me. We held the elections. We didn’t win, and I was four years in the opposition.
Then I ran for mayoral office! The former candidate and mayor told me he wasn’t putting himself forward again. In this context I was assertive: «if you’re not doing it, I will! I ran, and I won!»
has the experience been?
It’s like this: I was fully aware of the state the council was in, but I understood that I had to do something...
«If anyone wants a place to relax, to get out of the city, they can come to Freixo de Espada à Cinta»