Around the Pakati area..

There is much to see around the catchment area for Pakati schools, some fascinating places to visit, all with their own stories to tell…starting with a journey from Musami, across the Shavanhowe river, on to Ngomamowa, Gwangwadza, Chigwada, Njenje/school signboard, the schools themselves, and on to Chongwe.

The Author, just outside Musami township. The road goes out from the back of St Pauls Mission before heading downhill to the river.

The dirt road from Musami heading towards the Shavanhowe river crossing

To this day these roads remain untarred, and can be difficult to drive on especially when it is dry, as there are a lot of sandy areas there.

The road crosses the Shavanhowe river by a bridge – during the rainy season this bridge can be underwater at time making travelling difficult at times.

Ngomamowa is the feature which is most prominent in the area, and it is very impressive close up.

To get to Pakati, there is a right turn shortly after the pictured homestead above, which leads past Ngomamowa quite closely.

Ngomamowa, the dominant geological feature of the area, seen in many photos from Pakati. What is it like going up there? Myself, I dont know as I never went up. However Debbie Chadbon did take some students up one time. Here is the story, by Lorraine Mapuranga, friend of Pakati, of the Author and of Debbie herself:

“A form 4class of 1992 we had a chance to visit Ngomamowa mountain close to Musami and Shavanhowe bridge after there were a lot of speculation about the features on top of that mountain. I only remember that almost half of the class failed to reach the top of the mountain as this one is not an easy one. I’m happy to say I’m one of those who managed to reach to the top and it took us 37 minutes to get to the top. I vividly remember in the middle of the way to the top of the mountain when my feet were sweating and I was just undecided whether to give up or carry on. Gladly I managed to the top. I can say climbing down was better than going up. To those who remember this they will agree with me that we did struggle to get down. There’s no proper route to come down but we just had to find the best way to crawl down to the surface – it was a very amazing, memorable experience though for me.”

The top is apparently flat mostly, and about the size of a football pitch. Frequently baboons have been seen around the hill.

Gwangwadza is about a 10 minute walk from Hamamaoko store at Chigwada (see further down in this blog post). It has rock paintings reported to date back around 1800 years according to local historians.

My colleague Regis Chirape, Shona Teacher in 1989

The rock paintings are on the back wall area underneath the overhang, close to the top of Gwangwadza. I often went up there, usually with a colleague or visiting friend. Not a steep climb, but to get to the paintings requires scrambling over a number of boulders. There is a very good view of the area from this vantage point – see the two views further down this blog post.

Chigwada – Hamamaoko store in 1990
Chigwada – Hamamaoko store in 2019

Chigwada was the nearest township to me in that first year, 1989. It is where I met with many friends from the area on weekends when I stayed at school. We sat and talked, we drank, I often got invited to eat at a family homestead – it is a place with very fond memries for me, some very recently having met several of those friends in 2019 again.

Pakati schools signboard, 2018

The school signboard is at Njenje village, where I was warmly welcomed back in 2019!

Just by the school boundary/entrance is the family home of my friend Bothwell,
where I stayed in 2019

Left is the road to the Primary, in the centre are the Secondary school buildings

Classroom block with the World Map painted on, originally by Debbie Chadbon in 1992

Just a few hundred metres away is the Primary school, originally known as Chinhoi school. The current Head is seen with the Author in 2019

Mr Mahachi & Chris, 2019

The area around Pakati appears to have changed little in the last 30 years…both pictures below taken from Gwangwadza

How the area looked in 1989
How the area looked in 2018

To the left of the two views of the area, another geological feature can be seen – the hill known as Chongwe. It is close to Lorraine Mapuranga’s home in Chidawaya village. With Debbie Chadbon, back in 1992, they took Evelyn – neice of the then-Headmaster at Pakati Secondary school, Owen Veremu – up to the top.

As can be seen from Lorraine’s recent visit home, there are trees on the top of Chongwe. The picture below from 1992 sees the three explorers on the top among those trees.

This from Lorraine’s recollections again:

“Miss Chadbon liked walking around and climbing mountains, so it was this day when I went to fetch her and Evelyn from the school to visit Chongwe mountain, which is one main natural feature in my Village Chidawaya. We left the school pass through my home that is the way to get to Chongwe.

The distance from school should be an average 5km to get to the mountain. We have to cross a small river thst is adjacent to the mountain called Sikandoro river. We had to go through the back of the mountain so as to reach the top via the Northern side. It was not easy getting to the top as at some point we had to crawl. We had a watch to check the time we spent to get to the top. If my memory serves me right it took us 23mins to get to the’s really a nice view as it allowed us to view the school, Musami and some other places like Rhodes township (home to nearby Hokodzi school, a sporting rival for Pakati), Zhakata School and the villages surrounding the mountain.”

Behind these students in 1990, Ngomamowa and Gwangwadza
can clearly be seen from the school grounds

Many of my memories from teaching there are still vivid, and having become involved with Pakati and its people once more I am creating new ones to look back on. This blog and all the work being done to help the wonderful students of both Pakati schools is a real Labour of Love for me.

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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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