A day in the life: Pakati memories – the author writes…..

Author at Pakati Secondary School,
September 2018

The sun would rise around 5.30 am, and soon after so would my housemates & me. In my first year I shared the house with two colleagues, Regis Chirape & George Mutatapasi. Sadly I have lost contact with them so if any readers here find them please let me know ( friendsofpakati@gmail.com ). We had a small 2-ring gas stove, so breakfast was usually tea & bread, sometimes with eggs.

There were in those days two ways to take a bath or shower. We used a metal bucket full of water & heated it on the stove, then added cold water for the right temperature, before either using the room in the house with a large bathtub in it, or the outside area surrounded by a grass thatch designed as an open air shower room. I went fot the bathtub. When you have to physically carry the water from the borehole yourself, you would be surprised how little water you actually need to use….

By 7.00 teachers would already be at the school as the students -all day scholars – would start to arrive from the surrounding villages. Some of them came from as far as 8 km/5 miles away or more. Assembly at 7.15 looked exactly like it still does now…

Assembly at Pakati Secondary School

Assembly, like all lessons & breaks, was introduced by the ringing of the school handbell by a student, then was always begun with the then- National Anthem of ‘Ishe komborerai Africa ‘ (God bless Africa), something I never tired of hearing the students sing. Then the usual notices – sports reports, new staff, school visitors, changes to the day, reminders to pay school fees, whatever was needed to be passed on to the students.

If I remember correctly lessons would be from 7.30, with a morning break around 9.30 – 10.00, lessons then carrying on until 12.00. Lunch would be for an hour – back at the house, more tea & food – then afternoon lessons from 1.00pm until 2.30. After lessons there would be sports most days, athletics in the first term, ball games in the second term. On Fridays there was cleaning the school, tidying around the classrooms inside & out, sweeping, taking bleach to clean the toilets, whatever needed doing. Monday to Thursdays would usually end at 4.30, Fridays lessons ended at 2.00pm & cleaning ended at 3.00.

I can remember how quickly the students all dispersed, with a few lingering to chat a while with some of the staff, but once they had gone home, the silence was remarkable….you could just hear noises in the distance – the odd cowbell, people talking in the distance in nearby villages, maybe music from radios in the teachers houses…we cooked the evening meal, often sadza, sometimes rice or pasta, occasionally potatoes, make a sauce with onions, tomatoes, spices, we cooked meat such as fresh chicken or beef, sometimes tinned corned beef, or kapenta (small fish similar to anchovies), along with green vegetables. By 7.30 we had eaten & it was dark, the sun going down around 6.30pm. We had candles & parafin lamps, we sat around talking about anything – students, events from the day, friends, politics, sports, our homes & families, music, whatever we liked. By the end of the day we were tired, and as the days were goverened by the rising and setting of the sun, we woul be in bed by around 8.30 most days….I would listen to the radio or some music, but by 9.00 would be dead to the world, exhausted, but happy to be at Pakati.

All quiet once the students have gone home

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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