**Saturday Star** Profile of former Pakati student Pauline Machengo – Part 1

Here is the first part of a 3-part profile…lots of fascinating insights into Pauline Machengo’s early education at Pakati and family life, with part 2 focusing on her Secondary years and beyond, then part 3 on how she came to be living and working in South Africa, both to follow in future posts soon. Thank you to Pauline for all of this!

Pauline relaxing at her home in South Africa recently

“Well hello! I’m Pauline Machengo. I came from Chadenga village in Ward 14 of Murehwa District. I wanna share my story with Friends of Pakati since I also went to Pakati, but only did my primary level at Pakati Primary school, between 2000 and 2007. I still remember my ECD teachers Mrs Jambwa and Mrs Machengo, my mom.

From where I stayed to Pakati school it is approximately 4km and that was a long distance for an ECD kid. My mom had to carry me to school in order to catch time. Things changed when my mom resigned and I was in grade 1 by then. I had to wake up same time with my sisters who were in secondary school by then. From grade one to three I was in Mrs Kupara’s class. She was a grade teacher and I believe she’s still a great teacher.

My experiences at Pakati were not always that good because the distance I had to walk was too much for me given that I have a heart problem. I always got to school late and was punished almost everyday. Winter and rainy season were the worst. All the rain would hit me hard whilst I walked home because I couldn’t run like other kids.

Pakati Primary school in 2020 – Pauline says it looks pretty much the same as she remembers it

I joined music class when I was in grade 5 and Mr Kupara was the music master. I was happy to participate with the team that represents our school in musical competitions in 2005. I still remember every line of the song silver jubilee as it was my favourite. From grade 5 to 7 I was taught by Ms Karonga, Mr Majichi, and Mr Kupara.

Things got worse when Pakati Secondary school forbade us from using their gate. We had to go around the school, and that meant a kilometre was added to our distance. I still wonder what was the reason. The relationship between the secondary school and primary schools were not that sour. We could join our big brothers and sisters in some of the extra murals. We could train with then, watch dramas together and even listening to their bottle like radios! yeah someone donated those radios and they were really fun looking. By the time I was at Pakati the Headmaster was the late Mr Macherenje the Deputy Mr Mushangwe. Mr Macherenje was replaced by Mr Makoni. Although I didn’t do any sport at Pakati I was involved in other things like poems. Mr Maruthla was my tutor. I participated in many gatherings such as field day, AIDS day and Independence Day. This is where my passion for arts comes from.

Life at home was good. I am the the third born in my family. I have two big sisters so the chores were not bad. We used to go for shopping at Jakopo township. It’s far from where I stay and it really was hard for me due to my condition. Me and my sisters used to go to the forest to look for “mazhanje” (a widely-found forest fruit in Zimbabwe) that was the best part of being from ward 14.

Patience, Pauline and Precious

I was always in fear for my life whenever I passed that “Nyakujara” mountain alone (a smallish rocky outcrop on the way up the road from Pakati). My little young mind was telling me that something can pop out of the woods and attack me if I don’t run. Sometimes when a little older me and my friends could climb Nyakujara mountain looking for some historical evidence. There is a cave where the bushmen used to stay. They left a lot of things there such as broken clay pots, the rocks they used to grind their grains for food. They also did rock paintings. Me and my friends didn’t understand the importance of it until we were in secondary school. The mountain was dense and scary by then but we were curious.

I have so much memories with this Shavanhowe river and that Ngomamowa mountain. I still remember when I was still at Pakati school we would walk to Musami for sports competitions because we didn’t have transport to take us there. Some kids would cry out of fear at this bridge. It was so narrow. My mom told me that when I was young I would beg for mama to put me on her back even though we were in the bus. She said I could pray non stop asking God to protect us and the bus lol.

Shavanhowe bridge with Ngomamowa in the background

The distance from our home to Kadzere clinic was really hard for everyone in the community. But we used to have some home based care who could give people some meds instead of going to that clinic. Those home based care were Mrs Jeke and Mrs Nyakujara. We celebrated our Christmas at Jakopo township. It’s not a big place but by then we were satisfied. Every New Year the kids from my area could come together and visited one household to listen to top 100 on radio after that we could go to another house to watch television for the rest of the night. My family owned a 14″ black n white TV and we could all sit around it in our hut and watch some dramas.

The old TV still lives at the family home

I still remember in 2006 when Zimbabwe Warriors football team went for Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt when a lot of people came to watch the game on our 14″ TV.. Even the people from our neighboring Njenje village. I sometimes miss all those childhood moments.”

Much more is to come on this wonderful story in parts 2 and 3 of Pauline’s tale!

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 14 years as a Civil Servant in Bradford. I married a Zimbabwean woman & we have 2 sons.

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