Christophe Massimba says his family has found peace in Palmerston North.

The family have been in exile since they left Congo-Brazzaville in 1997 because of the civil war.

It was Massimba's position as aide de camp for the former and first-elected multi-party President Professor Pascal Lissouba that saw the family leave the country for their safety.

Massimba said President Lissouba was ousted from the palace on October 15, 1997 when Brazzaville was taken by General Denis Sassou-Nguesso.


"We left Brazzaville for Gabon. Many people were killed ... we left to save my life and my family.

"I was always on the television with the President, carrying his bag. I had the state secrets in my head and in my heart, and I was seen as a threat."

After eight years in Gabon where Massimba taught at the High College of Forest, it became dangerous for his family as his former position as President Lissouba's aide de campe made him a target; his accusers said he would want revenge for exiled President Lissouba who is now living in France.

His family's safety was further in peril because the president of Gabon's wife was the daughter of Nguesso.

Massimba's family had to move again, and this time they left for New Zealand.

"My wife and children did not speak English, it was a huge barrier."

He speaks six languages, French, Russian, English and the national languages of the Congo, Nzebi, Lingala and Kituba, but Massimba can only find part-time work.

Yes, there is a lot of frustration for him.

"It is a big challenge when you have to repeat your life, but I am living in peace."

He says peace is most important, but he would like to go back to the Congo.

For this erudite man, he says you can dream to change things and holds to that for his country.

Massimba's three sons are studying; one is at Ucol studying nursing, and two are at Victoria University studying accounting and architecture.