Outside Zim Borders – Chapters 6 and 7

Pauline arrives in Cape Town! The start of her South African adventures are described here in these next 2 chapters. Enjoy…



Edited by Chris Walker


In Bloemfontein the temperature dropped to 3°C. It was breezy outside and that was our recess station. Many people including me didn’t get off the bus because of the cold temperature. I saw Tinashe the nervous guy was now clinging to a baby towel which I assumed that he was given by the woman who was sitting not far from him. I was wearing socks and high cuts tennis shoes but I couldn’t feel my feet because of the cold. I felt pity for Tinashe who was only wearing some pushes (plimsolls). People had now taken their blankets from the shelves. Uncle covered me with another blanket. I had heard my sister complaining about winter in Cape Town. I wasn’t gonna survive this cold weather. This was going to kill me.

We arrived in Worcester at 7am. Uncle got off the bus because he stays in Worcester, which is a vineyard full of grapes, and uncle said he was a guard at one of the farms. No wonder why he was so well built.

We left Worcester for Paarl. We were blessed with nice views of the wine lands. When uncle left I was so hurt. I felt like a part of me had been ripped off. I was already missing him. Up to now I don’t understand why I felt so empty.

Tinashe had moved to sit with me because he was using my phone to communicate with his sister in Cape Town.
“We are now approaching the famous tunnel in South Africa. The Huguenot Tunnel.” He said that looking so excited.
“Really, have you seen it before?” I asked smiling at him.
“No. My sister always talked about it and I read about it too. Its so huge and long” he explained to me.
“Were you in school?” I asked curiously.
” hahha, l left school a while ago. I was now a rank Marshal. You know those kombies (taxis) to Mt Pleasant? ” I nodded.
“Yeah, that’s the kombies I was working with. I was a hwindi (taxi rank conductor)” he smiled revealing his perfect teeth. Gosh only a toothbrush would make this smile a killer.

By now we were driving through mountainous area. The road was constructed in mountains. It was so narrow and steep. We could see a nice vineyard from below us. The bus was moving slowly and the driver was doing a great job maneuvering those scary roads. I hate heights. I was so anxious.

From where we were we could see the tunnel just below us. So as the bus descended from the mountains that’s when you enter the tunnel. So dangerous but I was reading the rules. 90 km/h.

“See that mountain there. That pass?” Tinashe said that pointing to one of the mountains near the tunnel. I said yes and he said its called Du Toitskloof Pass.

“Can you imagine that they actually spent R125.000.000 constructing that pass.” He said.
“What? That’s a lot of money for such a pass” I said that looking through the window in order to see the pass clearly.

“Yeah its 48 km long. It took them four solid years to complete it”. He informed me.

” wow. I guess they employed thousands of workers ” I said.
“Come to think of it, only 500 Italian prisoners built that pass.”

“What? When was that?” I asked really shocked.
” It was built from 1884 to 1888.You know this Huguenot tunnel drastically reduces the distance from the old pass by 11 km. This is a short cut”

Well I was amazed by his knowledge. He must be a genius. By that time we were now in the tunnel. Huguenot Tunnel is 3.9 km long. Its a two way. Its clearance is 5m and you can drive at 90 km/h.
Such a distance in a tunnel. One can be so anxious.

After spending 4 minutes in the tunnel we finally saw the light lol. I remembered that saying ‘ there is light at the end of the tunnel’. I smiled to myself thinking that the person who came up with that saying must have had come across this Huguenot Tunnel.

We reached Paarl and some people got off the bus. The assistant announced that we will stop in Cape Town first and then proceed to Bellville. My sister told me that I should get off in Bellville. They will be waiting for me there.

Cape Town is so well built. I could see some nice and tall buildings but I didn’t see much since there was a fog.

“Look at this tall building. I’m telling you I will come and take pictures here” said Tinashe pointing to one of the biggest buildings written Civic Centre.

“Haha you should come with me”
” where are you going to be staying? ” he asked.
“Montana, I don’t know I will tell you” I said that.
“So next week we can go to the beach right? I want many photos”

“Ummm I can’t promise but we will hang out soon” l said that sending my friend a message telling him that I had arrived in Cape Town.

He was calling me throughout my journey. He stayed also in Cape Town so he promised to pick me up in Bellville.
I’m at the airport. Not far from Bellville. I will be there soon he texted back.

So from Cape Town we used Voortrekker Road. I was reading the names. I remember passing Maitland, Parow then Bellville. Finally I was on my way to the part of Cape Town where I would stay.


written by Pauline Machengo

Edited by Chris Walker


“This is Cape Town international airport. Maybe next time you might want to fly back home lol” That was my friend Kudzai who was showing me the airport as we drove by on Robert Subukwe Road on our way to Montana.

“Oh yeah I just saw the plane landing. I will come one day to see this” I said that feeling so excited. I opened the window so that I could have a nice view.

In Zimbabwe the airport is in Harare and I came from a small town outside Harare. I had never been at the airport before or see an aeroplane landing. The only time I saw a plane a little bit closer is when I was in Waterfalls (suburb of Harare) at my brother’s place.

“And the Kombies they look the same” I remarked.

“Hahaha here they’re called taxis not kombies” that was my sister. She had come to pick me up in Bellville so we were now driving to her house in Kudzai’s car.

“Yeah the taxis looks all the same. I once thought that it belongs to one person. My brother laughed at me when I said the taxi owner must be filthy rich with all thousands of taxis” I laughed hard. I thought that too but luckily I didn’t say it out.

In Zimbabwe a taxi owner can put the same symbol or same words on their taxis. For example in Macheke we once had a Legacy 1, Legacy 2&3.

So in South Africa all the taxis have a flag drawn just below the passenger window spreading towards the door.

We arrived home and I was so excited to meet my nieces. The first born was in school by that time. I was so tired. I had a bus leg lol. Three day journey in a bus was so tiresome. I took a long bath and a rest. I was awakened when my elder niece came back from school. She actually cried lol. She was so overwhelmed.

The following day Kudzai came to see me. We were sitting in his car at our gate when my cousin sister popped in to inform me that there was a vacancy at her work place in Brackenfell. She is a tailor. They were having a lot of orders from their clients so they were hiring.

” You’re lucky, just after two days of your arrival you’re now employed. Many people spent two to three months without jobs” Kudzai said that adjusting his car seat.

“But I’m still tired and its raining heavy I wonder if I will be fit to go to work tomorrow” I said that whilst massaging my legs.

“You better be fit and go because jobs are no longer easy to find here. So do you have transport money? I will give you R150 for a start I don’t have much money now” said Kudzai.

He opened the glove box and took R200 and gave me. “That’s all I have for now. I bought fuel, a full tank on my way here.

” Thanks so much I’m really grateful” l said that putting the money in my pocket.

We bade our farewells and I went back inside to rest. Tomorrow I was starting a new job.

The song it ain’t me from Selena Gomez woke me up. My uncle had set that song as his alarm tone. I was thankful for that. I checked the time it was 5am. I was leaving for work at 6:20. I prepared and exactly 6:20 my cousin was at my house. We left for the bus stop another experience started there.

In the morning the taxis collect people from the road to the taxi rank where people will be standing in the queue respectively waiting for their taxis.

Unlike in Zimbabwe, South Africa is organised when it comes to taxis. No pressurizing each other. Everyone has to join the queue. We got into a taxi to Bellville and we took another taxi from Bellville to Brackenfell. We arrived at our pick up point at 7:39. My cousin said her boss will come and pick up with her car to her house.

Whilst we were waiting for our transport I discovered that we were at a fire point where people go and wait for the whites to come and get them if they want workers. I saw cleaners, gardeners and builders all waiting impatiently to be picked.

“So does all these people get to be picked up or?” I asked my cousin.
“No. Not everyone, some will go back home without being picked up. It’s kinda lucky game. Some get employed permanently” she explained to me.

“Our transport will be here anytime. Let me tell you my boss has a big cat at her house and some tortoises so please don’t make fun remarks about them” she warned me.
“What? Some tortoises? You mean she has tortoise as a pet?” I was surprised. In Zimbabwe or as Africans keeping a tortoise is kinda taboo. People could black paint you as a witch. Well I promised her that I won’t make nasty comments. I was going to keep my opinions to myself.

As we were waiting, we were joined by another two coloureds ladies whom my cousin works with. I was surprised to see them smoking. I made that fun look and my cousin just laughed at me and telling those ladies that I’m surprised. See in Zimbabwe if you’re a lady and you smoke it simply means you’re considered a prostitute. Cigarettes were only meant for men not women.

Our transport came and we took off to our working place….

There is a lot more still for Pauline to tell us about in this remarkable story….I am very intrigued by what is to come in the next few chapters.

Also to come on this blog soon is more about our collaboration with VaTonatsa Foundation, as they prepare the Secondary school matetial for the students at Pakati and Chanetsa. The coming re-opening of schools in Zimbabwe will mean new stories and pictures will also come, showing the new reality of life at both Pakati schools for students and staff alike.


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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