Featured photo – no.3

Welcome to the third in our series of Featured Photos, with the story behind it. I have chosen this particular one, taken in 1989, for a number of reasons…

Firstly, it is one of the very few I have from that time which I am actually in. I don’t remember who took it, or even if it was with my own camera or not.

However, secondly, it is also the only group photo with most of my colleagues at Pakati Secondary school.

Thirdly, it shows me in what really was the happiest time of my life. I often tell people it was the best thing I ever did, not least because without it, many things which happened subsequently might never have happened, or would have been  very different – for example such as further study, marriage, children, career, etc.

In that picture are the people I worked with in my first year at Pakati, with the exception of the Head, Mr Samakomva. They are, back row (l to r) Mr Kashangura, Mr Choga and Mr Gororo, the front row (l to r) the Author, Mr Nyamauya, Mr Mutatapasi, Mr Murwira and Mr Chirape.

The house I shared during my stay at Pakati…the blue door lead to the kithchen area, my room was the one on the right. 

Most memorable for me, are Mr Martin Nyamauya (Deputy Head), who most helped me settle in when i first got to Pakati in January 1989, and the two teachers I shared a house with that year, Mr George Mutatapasi & Mr Regis Chirape.

I remember we took turns to cook, using a small 2-ring gas st stove provided by VSO, and a couple of parafin stoves. We cooked whatever we could buy locally, often from families whose children attended either Pakati school, or a local store (see below for an example), so things such as eggs, chicken, green vegetables, tomatoes, onions, beef, corned beef, kapenta (small dried fish) as well as rice, potatoes and the main staple, maize. Plenty of fresh fruit around too – mangoes, bananas, oranges.

Taluu store opened at the end of my first year, and was a typical rural Zimbabwean shop.  

That first year was a steep learning curve for me, with so may changes to what I was used to, e.g. no running water (had to hand-pump it myself & carry it maybe 30 metres to the house) and no electricity (mostly used battery power, solar rechargeable and/or parafin), plus getting used to the climate, the school procedures, the language & accent, transport, the smells, tastes, sights and sounds of the place. All of it was new & took some getting used to!

At the end of my first week, I couldn’t wait to get back to the city of Harare, where I could access most mod cons. However, over the period of the first term (13 weeks) something had changed, and by the end of it, I couldn’t wait to get back to the school if I was away over the weekend.

I think, partly at least, it was the feeling of welcome I had received from the students themselves, my colleagues, and also from the community around. Just recently, one of my former students – see https://friendsofpakati.com/2021/07/24/from-pakati-to-london-weekend-star-epiphania-chiroodza/ – said some very nice things about me, which could explain…

“… people in the community they liked you. You were very humble and wanted to learn more of our culture. You really blended well with the community and the community embraced you and we became one family.”

It is hardly surprising that this time of my life has never left me, nor that I should now be helping both Pakati schools in their quest to get IT equipment, in order to try and help the students do well, and by extension, help the community too.

If you want to help too, please donate to http://Paypal.me/friendsofpakati or email friendsofpakati@gmail.com




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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