Reposted: Further memories from the Author…

More of my recollections from Pakati 30 years ago…

Continuing on from my previous story about a non-existent light switch, and having read through all of the early posts on the blog, I thought I would tell another little story about my time at Pakati.

A 40 minute walk from the school is a small township called Chigwada. In 1989 it was little more than a single store, Hamamaoko Stores, owned & run by Thomas Gombera and his wife. About 10 minutes further is a low sloping hill, with an overhang above a cave, from where you can look right aucross the area. At the back of the cave are some rock paintings dating back around 1500 years.

Me with the future Mrs W, along with Thomas Gombera (right) the store owner who introduced us in 1991 in the Pakati area

I went to see the rock paintings one day, a bit of a clamber, but a slip on my way down meant I had to struggle getting home with what was a twisted knee. Next day a Monday, I could barely move so stayed in my bed. In the house I shared with 2 local teachers, the lady who had the room next to mine came out, walked into the kitchen area & as she went out of the kitchen door, spotted a snake in tbe corner. She ran out screaming ‘Nyoka, nyoka’, banged on my window shouting Chris, can you get rid of the snake (nyoka)…difficult as I couldn’t move!

At the rock paintings in 1989 with Mr Chirape,
a teacher of Shona at Pakati Secondary School

In the end, two other colleagues came into the kitchen area with long sticks, and got it out of the house. As it had probably followed some prey into the house, it was considered the snake would return, so sadly had to destroy it. They later identified it as a Black Mamba, one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa…


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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