Citizens of HKS: Djosa d’Simao, a.k.a. Lima

Zayba Abdulla and Inayat Sabhikhi
Zayba Abdulla is a second year MPP student and an Associate Editor with The Citizen
Inayat Sabhikhi is a second year MPA student and an Associate Editor with The Citizen

Djosa, a member of the Custodial staff at the Kennedy School, is a former government official from Cape Verde, a star footballer and sports fan, married to Gilda who works in the cafeteria, and possibly the friendliest face at HKS. 

Can you tell us about yourself?

I’m from Cape Verde. I came to America in 2001. Everybody was coming here to get a better life. I have a better life here than in my home country, but my country is a good country to live in too. I had a good job in Cape Verde, I worked for the government — like City Hall. I worked for the Topography Department.


Did you move to the U.S. by yourself?

I came by myself, but I came because my daughter was born here in 2000 and my wife was already living in Cambridge.

How did you meet Gilda?

In Cape Verde. Long time ago, in ‘88.

Do you visit Cape Verde often?

I went last September. My mother lives there. There’s eight of us children — two in Cape Verde, two in Portugal, two in France, and two of us brothers here in America. 

You worked with the government back in Cape Verde, are you interested in politics here?

I don’t like politics! In Cape Verde I voted, and I vote here too, but I don’t like to participate a lot in politics. My thing is soccer, football. I don’t like to argue…sometimes when you’re talking too much, it gets messy.

What team do you support?

In Cape Verde my team is Academica do Mindelo, I was on the team! It was a national level team — this was before I worked with the city government. 

Do you play soccer (football) here?

When I first came to the United States, I played a lot of football. When I started working, I worked the overnight shift and couldn’t play during the day anymore. But on my island, everybody knows me as the guy who plays football really well. 

Do you watch games?

For Cape Verde, I support the Portuguese League, sometimes the French League…I watch all the games. My team in Portugal is Benfica. In France, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). In Holland, Ajax. In England, Manchester United. In Spain, Real Madrid.

We’re noticing your cool tattoo!

That’s my daddy’s name — Simao — him and I were tight. And the fish are because I’m a Pisces. In Cape Verde, they call me Djosa d’Simao after my father. My real name is Jose, but everyone calls me by my dad’s name.  

You said you’ve been working here at HKS for twenty years! What’s changed since then?

A lot of things. Benefits — we pay half for the T pass. Healthcare is good too, I have good insurance. The Kennedy School is the best place to work. 

What about the students? Do you think they’ve changed over time?

All the students are my friends from different countries — Brazilian, Spanish, Indian. I have French friends, and of course African, because I’m African.

Did you meet any students from Cape Verde?

I heard there was one student but I never met him.

Have you seen anyone famous come to HKS?

Yes, over here there’s  a lot of famous people. I saw one guy who was a fighter — Jesse Ventura

Have you seen any football players here?

No, but I’ve seen the guy who plays baseball – Big Papi (David Ortiz) from the Red Sox. 

Do you have friends here on the staff?

All my colleagues here are my friends. We cover for each other. We go out together. I have pictures! This is from a surprise birthday party for Janira. In this picture – I am from Cape Verde, there is a Brazilian, Dominican, Tibetan, Peruvian, Colombian. 

 

Is there anything you would like students here to know as they go forward in their policy careers?

Do a good job, work well with people and your company, and do a good job to make your country better.

 


The “Citizens of HKS” is where we get to know the staff of the Harvard Kennedy School, who we see every day, who make our education possible, but who we often don’t get an opportunity to connect with. If you are an HKS staff and would like to be interviewed, please email us at the_citizen@hks.harvard.edu.  

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