**Saturday Star** Friend of Pakati Bothwell Riside brings us up to date

Bothwell & the Author, September 2019

M friend and host in Zimbabwe in 2019 is a frequent contributor to this blog – for example, see https://friendsofpakati.com/2019/07/29/pakati-a-return-by-a-former-student-and-a-reminder-for-the-author/ , as well as a real Friend of Pakati where he completed his early education at both Pakati schools from Grade 1 through to Form 4. As with another regular contributor, Lorraine Mapuranga, it just goes to show what can be achieved with the right attitude and support, even from humble beginnings. Below is just a taste of life for Bothwell presently. Read on….

Here is where Bothwell gets his inspiration from – his 3 children back home in Zimbabwe

“Well I don’t know where to start from, for it has been a very long time since l said goodbye to Pakati school and my kith and kin. The bottom line is there is nothing as comforting as being with not only your family but people who love you unconditionally.

Bothwell in full flow translating for me, September 2019

The September computers and sports kit handover spearheaded by our own prodigy Chris “Gushungo” Walker remains my last memorable event in Zimbabwe. Owing to the kind of reverance and natural mutual respect l give to Chris, as well as my passion for my home area, l had to oblige to a request to just give an outline of happenings around me.

Bothwell inspiring learners in a speech to Pakati Secondary school, 2019

I have moved out of Zimbabwe. Chris’s coming as l told him, was putting my plans on a back pedal a little, but my eyes and thoughts were already destined for a some overseas country and South East Asia in particular. As we were tearing down the Murewa roads, my travelling itinerary had already been put in place, therefore in November last year l finally said goodbye to Zimbabwe and set off on an excruciating 20 hour long flight journey to one of the South East Asian countries, through South Africa. This country is 5 hours ahead of Zimbabweans time and 7 hours ahead the UK time. The time zone differences have been making me be unable to communicate with most people and Chris has been the worst victim. When I wake up at 5 am he would be going to bed at around 10 only to wake up when l am at the peak of my work around 2 pm my time . There is nothing funny and thrilling here, in case someone might have thought otherwise.

Early days in South East Asia…Bothwell as a tourist

As we may all know l have been the most decorated trailblazing educationist at operational management level in my province, and my curriculum vitae has too many achievements that can fill up a couple of pages. Just to mention a few, l had the best grade seven results in the province, the record was only broken in 2019. I have won several accolades in sporting, arts and cultural activities at district, provincial and national level.

With his new colleagues

When l got to South East Asia (SEA) l went to the school that had shown interest in me and all due process was done. I am half enjoying life here although home is the best. I have managed to fit in the system which are synonymous to the ones at Rydings (in Karoi, Zimbabwe). To tell the truth working under several supervisors moulds you in life. It makes you be able to adapt to any environment. I have worked with several leaders in my life, some are good, compassionate, courteous, encouraging and show leadership traits that are so good. I have worked also with leaders who show little regard for your life, who possess zero traits of abilities and some who do as if they are a mafia taken from Mbare. I think leading an educational institutions is more of a calling.

Mr Riside in his element, a natural educator

When you get to an institution you don’t need a year to assess the Quality work life index.
If there is a place that brings me smiles here it is my workplace. I have found a family, colleagues, confidantes and so on here in SEA.

Asia is not an easy place to explore for Africans. Despite your qualifications, your nationality and skin colour play a lot of matrix. Racism is subtle but can be conspicuous where you need some favours. However these can be overshadowed first by your qualifications and gradually by performance. I am the only purely black staff member at my new haven. With education, you can go anywhere in life. While my background is always strapped in my brains, it has never deterred me from reaching the sky. There is nothing impossible on life.

Bothewll at his original home, close to Pakati Secondary school

Pakati school remains a priority and is in my thoughts every day. I am looking forward to be back in September. I hope the fund raising efforts will cushion the schools from the economic turmoil that is not sparing educational institutions too.”

Outside the Sheraton Hotel, Harare, October 2019
At Pakati, September 2019 on a very memorable day

Authors comments:

Since Bothwell first contacted me in 2019 offering to help during my stay last September/October we have become close friends. I value the friendship very highly and thank him for his contributions to this blog and unwavering support. I know how far he has come, from vey humble beginnings, to the well rounded, well educated professional he has become. That he still remembers his time at Pakati so fondly speaks volumes for his character. I look forward to our next encounter….hopefully back in Zimbabwe in September.


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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