Greetings everyone! Well I was expecting to hear about the trip from Bothwell, and he hasn’t let me down…so below is the message he sent me to publish here on the blog.
“Ousofia in London
In the early hours of the day, the massive 800+ seater Emirates Airbus descended and landed at Manchester Airport (I almost said Manchester United Airport). Making a beeline, we headed to the immigration authorities, where I expected to be bombarded with many questions. To my surprise, the official was remarkably professional and didn’t ask me many questions.
Chris was already waiting for me, and it was a memorable sight as he greeted me and handed over a present, the English way, of course. Someone from Zimbabwe, Mashonaland East, or more precisely, from Murewa—Murewa West, to be exact. Ward 14, Chinhoyi village—had just landed. A Pakati Primary and Secondary School alumnus and a member of the Friends of Pakati executive had truly arrived. Well, for those I grew up with, this was never my dream. If I had ever mentioned that one day I would be in the UK, USA, Malaysia, playing soccer in the Mberengwa area near Kahangaiwa’s house, I might have been labeled insane. The dream I never had was the dream of walking down the UK streets.
As we drove past the wide tarmac roads of the M-prefixed roads, Chris, my driver (I don’t want to offend him), decided to take me through other roads so that I would have a full view of everything happening. The terrain from Manchester city to Bradford was such a spectacular view. The ever-meandering roads, valleys, stone-built roads were my major attraction. Of course, I was not an Ousaofia in London, for London was not even close by. Perhaps it was an incredible two hours away, and forcing myself to go there was not the best. Tired but not very sleepy since 8 am is exactly 1400 hours in Southeast Asia, I felt very energetic. We had some photoshoots as I was welcomed by Chris’ sons. The weather was rainy, and I could think it could be one of the cold June days in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe and the UK share a lot of things in common. Our education system is British, and our spellings and everything mimic or mirror the British systems. The food we find in restaurants, the roads, and ways of driving make one think they are in another well-developed Zimbabwe. For those who have traveled from Johannesburg to Cape Town by road, please know that that’s how this part of the UK looks like.
The following day appeared to have been the most exciting one as we headed to Chris’s hometown and made our way to Scunthorpe FC field, where we recorded a podcast and video. Bradley, whose contacts I have been having, was waiting for us there, and we went for lunch and toured the nearest places before recording. These guys love their team, and Scunthorpe, besides being in unfashionable leagues, is permanently engrossed in the hearts of these men. Is it these men only, or is it also the entire Friends of Pakati fraternity who are beneficiaries of what the football team and its faithful supporters have done? I appreciated everything and had hoped if there was a match on the day.
As the never-moving sun was supposedly about to set, we found our way back to Bradford. This time, unlike on our way to Scunthorpe, we used another route for me to maximize my tour. I was really a tourist, for sure. The following day was another day. I had to go and see my former colleague, Lazarus Tigere, where we had a chat and some barbecue, braai before we went to see Veronica Walker, who had also had a hand in my traveling. The bubbly Veronica welcomed us well, and we were served a traditional sadza meal. I was not coming from Zimbabwe, by the way; I was coming from Malaysia, and where I stay, we rarely have time to find sadza. For me, it was the best moment too.
Sadly, Lorraine, one of my closest, was at work, and I could only speak to her through video calls. Derby is also far, and I could not see her. While Chris said he was returning the favor, I never thought hosting him at my house would require returning the favor, for I had done this due to my passion for the development of Pakati. Our aim is to make Friends of Pakati grow in leaps and bounds and become a fully-fledged NGO registered both in the UK and Zimbabwe. Our scope of operation must transcend beyond Pakati schools and perhaps become a national NGO. Who knows, the skies are the limit.
As my departure loomed, the anticipation of bidding farewell to this newfound world of British charm and Zimbabwean nostalgia hung in the air. The richness of the experience wasn’t lost on me as I packed my bags for the return journey to Kuala Lumpur.
The penultimate day saw me strolling through the enchanting streets of Bradford, taking in the quaint blend of Victorian architecture and modern urban life. It was a farewell tour, and every corner seemed to whisper stories of the people I had met and the moments we had shared. The vibrant culture of the city resonated with the echoes of Zimbabwe, creating a unique tapestry of memories. As I headed to the airport I had bittersweet symphony of emotions. Dorothy, my lovely Muzukuru came to meet Chris and I at the airport where we exchanged promises of staying connected despite the physical distance. The airport, a junction of arrivals and departures, mirrored the crossroads of my journey — a convergence of past and future.
As I boarded the plane, the images of English landscapes and Zimbabwean warmth played like a montage in my mind. The flight back to Kuala Lumpur was a transition from the cool English weather to the tropical embrace of Malaysia. Yet, the warmth of the memories lingered, creating a bridge between continents.
And so, the chapter titled “Ousofia in London” concluded, leaving me with a tapestry of experiences and a renewed commitment to the vision of Friends of Pakati. As I looked towards the future, I couldn’t help but wonder what other adventures awaited on the horizon, for the skies, indeed, are limitless.”
Here is a reminder of the previous blogs about this flying visit:
Thank you for reading! If you can, please donate as we try to get more IT to Pakati schools: https://friendsofpakati.com/please-donate/