The day I was surprised…

Life at Pakati had settled down to a gentle pace by 1990, and after 2 years I decided to take a trip home. Flights were paid for by VSO, along with an extra allowance for extending my contract to the end of August 1991. The intention was to study for a Masters to start in October that year.

I went home to spend time with family at Christmas in Scunthorpe, followed by New Year with friends in Bradford. At times the contrast between my life in England and my life in Zimbabwe was remarkable, but at the beginning of January 1991 I returned to Pakati.

On my return to the school, I learned that Mr Samakomva, the Headmaster, had fallen ill and was unlikely to return. After going go the Primary school to consult with Mr Rugoyi (their Head), about the situation and to get the key for the schools post box in nearby (2 bus rides away..) Murehwa. He suggested I visit the Ministry of Education staffing offices there.

I talked at length to the Staffing Officer about the school, and he promised me he would sort things out for us. I set off back, and made my way to Musami, a small township a few kilometres from Pakati. I went to a local store which had a cafe, ordered some sadza ne nyama and waited for the bus back to Pakati due around an hour later.

While I was waiting, talking to a friend in Musami, a woman came up to me and said to me ‘Are you Mr Walker? I said yes, I am. She then handed me a letter, introducing her as a new teacher at the school, but it was addressed to:

Mr C Walker

Acting Head

Pakati Secondary School

Murehwa

Carrying the signature of the Staffing Officer I had spoken to less than 2 hours before!

From Newly Qualified Teacher to Head teacher in 2 years was quite a surprise to me to say the least!

Author:

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 spent the last 13 years as a Civil Servant in Bradford. I married a Zimbabwean woman & we have 2 sons.

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