Dr Bothwell Riside – well worth another read

Author: When I first read this story I was very moved by it. It is an inspiring story of progress from the humblest of beginnings. What is more, it has many features I know to be true, having experienced a glimpse of life around the Pakati area all those years ago. I know of many people who have similar tales to tell, of determination & desire to do well for themselves. These are stories which have motivated me to try & help in the way requested by the Head, Mr Mugove Chifaka.

This was the most read story from the blog, being very well liked & shared. Time to take a second look…

Dr Bothwell Riside, former student of both Pakati schools – a personal profile like no other. Please read it all.

Dr Bothwell Riside, a man with a story to tell…

Academic Background

I was born on 31-08-78 . At St Pauls Musami hospital in Murewa . Attended preschool and grade 1 to 7 at Pakati school from 1985-1992 there in Murewa.  After grade 7  l went on to enrol for form 1 in 1993  till 1996 when l finished form 4. I  got what were said to be the best results from a rural upper top school for that year, that is 5 As and 3 Bs . I later went on to enrol at Seke teachers college to train as a teacher, after l failed to proceed with my A level Sciences due to lack of funding. I graduated with a Diploma in education in 2000 while l also did my A levels where l got an A in Mathematics  and two Es in Geography and Business Studies while reading on my own.  I later did a Diploma in MIS with Institute of Management of lnformation systems -United Kingdom before enrolling for a Degree in  Informations systems with Women’s university in Africa. I later Studied  for Masters degree in Educational management and Administration before a a PhD with University of Atlanta that focused in IT implementation in education in Zimbabwe. Currently l am putting in place PHD proposals with local and international universities on ICT and education or monitoring and evaluation. 

I am currently the Vice Principal of Rydings College in Karoi – a multi racial Trust school . 

Social Background

Growing up in Murewa was easy for me those days but when l grew up l later saw l was actually soldiering in very difficult conditions. I will not delve on the poverty stricken family l came from, where I would go to school without shoes or uniforms or even a pen. I won’t talk of dilapidated huts and lack of basic foodstuffs that was synonymous with my family. I thank God for the intelligence at school, teachers at Pakati who were so loving and caring. I would go to school after working in the field and then come back to assist in herding cattle as well as tilling the fields. 

How l went to school

Primary school was easy for there was free education save for the locally demanded building fund of which l would not be expelled from school for failing to pay. When l went to the only secondary school option l had, Mr Owen Veremu who was the now acting head, after taking the reigns from Mr Chris Walker, advised my parents to approach the  department of social welfare for my education assistance which l think is the current Beam model. The now late head went on through the councillor the late Mr Evaristo Chapaguta and later went to Dr David Parirenyatwa and my papers sailed through. Ceteris paribus the department of social welfare only catered for ophans and or vulnerable children but in my case my parents could not even afford food on the table and sending me to school was secondary or extremely unaffordable for them. Those who grew up with me know what l am talking about. Mr Svova had donkeys only as his source of wealth and l used to be laughed at by people at school. People used to call me Bothwell  Madhongi (Bothwell Donkeys). Another headache was offing, the social welfare department could only pay school fees and exam fees. The locally determined levies in the form of building and sports  were not paid for.  While l wont mention the tiring journeys to and from Murewa approximately 50km away –  l used to go on foot with my late father for regularisation of my bursary, l really had a torrid time in terms of school uniforms and etc.  I remember how the late Mr Sagonda a teacher at the school gave me his pair of shoes to wear at school. I hardly had a proper  uniform.  

When in form  3 the building fund and sports levy bill accrued grew astronomically. I was later advised to do some work for the school to set off my bills. The only work to do was to mould bricks (am sobbing).  A few friends of mine and l in an August holiday went to the nearby river and we moulded 15000 bricks. Later l went on to make burning ovens for the bricks (kiln). I also dug toilets pits for several toilets at the school and assisted building some. All my labour contributions were fairly calculated and they offset my debt and l got some change. Imagining that l used to do this work while balancing it with the demanding school work is unimaginable. I used to sleep late reading. I won’t forget the day my poor mother woke up at around 12 midnight and found my paraffin  lamp on. She shouted at me and accused me of making her incur more paraffin costs by not putting off the light. 


I finished my grade 7 without knowing how a city or town is like, neither did l know a tarred road. My homestead is just about 100m  due East of Pakati Secondary school . We used to herd our donkeys in the school yard which had better grass than anywhere. Developments at this secondary school were right under our nose . I remember a period when our secondary school was awash with three whites ; Ms Beattie,  Ms Chadbon and Mr Walker (there was a fourth, Miss Ison, too). Being whites in a black community every step of theirs was easily noticeable. While we were too young to understand their mandate, modus operandi or rationale for their existence these people used to have friends at times coming to visit them.  A development conspicuously noticeable was when Mr Walker whom l think was now the head after taking over if am not mistaken from either Mr Chitsike or Samakomva (it was the latter). He was working tirelessly to install a manually pumped borehole that had a tank and a pipe that pumped water to the teachers house and schools. Unfortunately when he left his project was corroded by negligence  and met its death. I was inspired by the news of the likes of David Chanetsa whom l had heard had gone to university or A level. Abel Fusire who had also done the same. I was too ignorant to know that l could be someone other than and teacher or policeman. 

My wish now

To assist my community by ensuring that children are not exposed to the harsh conditions l went through. Assist the less fortunate members of the society as well as seeing the schools  l went to do well. 

I pioneered the Old Students Association with others as the secretary general of it. Later we got a donation from the state lotteries. I won’t get into details of how we got the donation and this managed to construct a state of the art modern teachers’ house at Pakati primary school and then channelled the remainder of the $250 000  towards refurbishment of the classroom block. We also got assistance from one of our OSA members who helped us by giving us tips and directions on how to have the school electrified. Sometimes people got surprised as to why the electricity in the whole ward first went to Pakati school. THANK YOU OSA.

I also used to assist the primary school with scarce teachers books and tests. At one time l brought a Korean lady who wanted to develop sport as well as hold workshops for teachers. 

Meeting Mr Walker

There was was a time l was looking for Mr Walker l mentioned above. I went through all Facebook names called Chris Walker asked them about whether they knew about a Mr Walker from Pakati. I  looked for him because l saw the passion he had for our school and l looked at my passion and thought  we would come up with something better together.  Later l heard about his visit to the school  and subsequently found him on Facebook l went into delirium . As if its enough l realised he had set a fund for Pakati school an idea l had before and then he also had . What humbles me most is despite him having been married to the secondary school his vision has both schools in mind.

Now l am a  proud father of 2 girls and a boy. I have travelled to several Southern African countries on different capacities. I have been used as a resource person by Mashonaland West province where l have been a speaker in workshops and heads meetings. I have excelled and got several national and regional accolades both as an institution or individually. Some of the highlights are two Secretary’s merit awards, 5 times National quiz champions. Best results in the Province and country. 

I have strong interest in wildlife where l have vast incomparable knowledge about Flora and Fauna. I run a Facebook page Wildlife and Environmental education Zimbabwe. I am active on all social media platform. I run consultancy in IT and Education.


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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