Memories from 1989 – my own early days at Pakati

The then Headmaster of Pakati Secondary School, Mr Samakomva, made a request to VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas, an international development charity from the UK) as he thought they needed a qualified Maths teacher, and Zimbabwe was not producing sufficient numbers of teachers to staff the rapidly expanding education sector.

I had applied to VSO in 1988 as a newly qualified teacher, an idea planted in my head by (coincidentally) a Zimbabwean friend and his family. Having been accepted & then posted there, I arrived at the school on a Saturday, before starting work as a teacher at Pakati on Monday 16th January, 1989. I was met first by the Deputy, Mr Nyamauya, then on the Sunday, by the Head & other staff.

I had basic household equipment & some food to get by on, but it was daunting to say the least….new job, new country, new language, new culture, new sights, sounds, tastes & smells, new ways of doing everything. No electricity & no running water…plus heat, mosquitoes, difficulty in getting around. Much to learn but a challenge for me. But…it was me who put myself in that position so I just had to deal with it, no matter how different things would be.

To be honest, the first few days were a bit of a blur, as the Head took me round the various Ministry of Education offices in Murehwa (District), Marondera (Provincial) & Harare (National). I did start to settle as I started to teach, getting used to how people spoke – and them getting used to understanding how I spoke too.

In my first term, initially I couldn’t wait to get back to the city – Harare – for the modern conveniences. By the end of that term I couldn’t wait to get back to the school if I was away for any reason. I had learned to love the place, I felt settled. It is a place where I was made so welcome by all, and I still feel the same to this day 30 years later.

To be continued….


My name is Chris Walker, and between January 1989 and September 1991 I worked, through VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas), at Pakati Secondary School in Murehwa South district in Zimbabwe. I was a Maths teacher for 2 years, the Acting Head for the last 8 months there. I have also taught in Botswana & the UK, had 4 years working for VSO, and have been a Civil Servant in Bradford since 2005.

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