Friday, July 24, 2009

Shumbanhete (Augustine)is now the head caterer. Been at Ndera since 1964

Mai Matombo a true patriot to Ndera

Dear all,
Re: A Time and Place to Remember
In June Schools closed and I took my family on a journey by road to Marondera from Capetown. It was the most excited yet arduous journey I have undertaken, being the first by road with the family from Capetown, and/or of that distance a round-trip of 7600km in all. As I drove I found myself alone in the car as everyone was fast asleep most of the time punctuating with pitstops for strethching eating and out of sheer boredom for my 6.5 year old daughter who pronounced it loud and clear just 150km into the journey. I found myself wondering in and out of the past, most my past. The most prominent parts of the wondering found me in the places that formulated me into whom I have become. I found my self wondering in my childhood years Please see if you cannot relate.

I write this with a spirit and attitude that it will catch you wherever you are, who ever you are. I was born at Murehwa general hospital in 1970 and grew up in the dusty environs of rural Murewa moving from one school to another as both parents were school teachers, until I was eight (8) years old. In 1978 in the then Zimbabwe-Rhodesia my father was promoted to headmaster at a farm school in Macheke near Nhowe mission. Born of parents to whom education was not only a way of earning a living for their family, but a panacea to success, at independence my parents found it befitting to enroll my sister and myself at Macheke primary school. These were the transition years and everything was new and fresh, the young black African boy could now learn side by side with his white counter part and call him brother.

Macheke gave me a foundation to life that I have found invaluable to this day. I was schooled not only in the art of knowledge acquisition, use and dissemination but also in the art of relationships and character building, nurturing and survival. I wrote my grade 7 examinations without a plan nor a vision of the future, this was not an uncommon situation in those days, Angie, my sister on the other hand always had it clear in her mind what she wanted to be. She wanted to be a veterinarian, After 5 years of undergraduate and 2 years of post graduate studies I wonder what made her change her career? AMAZING, where on earth did a black girl from Macheke get an idea to do such?

Macheke primary was a wonderful place. We got to meet many people learn and play without a worry about what the future held for us. My days as a youngster are punctuated by visions of other people’s big brothers and sisters, the memories of the Billy Goats and innovative and mad young scientists. I lived blissfully in a land for whom I was not responsible nor ever thought I would be responsible for. Others had created the systems and we had inherited them.

As grade seven came to an end and we had to plan against all that was sane and pleasurable to go to high school. “The High” mythical and surreal was a place one would transcend and become a man. Marondera high school was the natural ascension from primary to secondary for a MPS grade 7 graduate. I had to leave The Miss Coetzees and Mr. Chanakiras for a place more wonderous and promising of adventure.

1985 was the year my life changed. Having been thoroughly scrubbed to remove the excesses of the holiday life, I put on my number 1 uniform with the green blazer for the first time. We got into my father’s 120Y and took 103km drive from Waterloo farms in Macheke to Marondera. We were received my the then matron of Hampshire, my new home for the next 6 years and oriented to the order of things. All was normal and exciting. Having proved that the parents had provided according to the uniforms list I bid our good-byes and started to acquaint myself with the other kids in dorm 1. I met on that day, Mr. F. Muchinapaya, Mr H.B.Nyaumwe, Mr. M.J Nhukarume, Mr TH Muzondo, Mr T. Mukundu, Mr. Troy Warwick, and reacquainted myself with my brother and friend Jess Benade. Ndera Workshop one of the few groundsmen still there
Marondera high immediately engulfed us all and we were mentored into the ways and traditions of the school by senior sproggs; Mr. A Chinamasa and Mr. Makamba. Our head of hostel then was Mr. I Saunders who was also school headboy, I have yet to see such an imposing and authoritative figure. Mr. F Muchinapaya and I were to be skivvies for Mr. Bepete who was Hampshire hostel dorm 2 prefect. My duties included running Mr. Bepete a bath, waking him up and whilst he was bathing making up his bed, polishing his shoes and laying out his clothes for the day, having ofcourse done all the above for myself. After breakfast, which was such an event one can write a whole book about I made my way to school.

We were quickly oriented into the goings on at school and we settled in well and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it except the school times themselves which tended to punctuate the eventful life we were living.

Everything about the High School was eventful and everything was pregnant with traditions and values that seem to have etched something in me that makes me stand out like a prick amongst many from the sprigging, skivvying, sport and everything in-between we were being bred for the future.
Rugby Field number 1“Bayete!!
Shumba Waa, Shumba Taaa,
Shumba, Shumba, win by far

Shumba green, Shumba stripe
Shumba, Shumba win by Far

This was our mantra…………..

Life at ‘Ndera was the ride of a lifetime, I will tell you more in the future but for now let me digress to the reason I thought of wring you all a letter. Iam hoping, no I am praying, no I know this will move you to think about the past. We were blessed to have been schooled at such a fine school with such fine teachers the likes of Mr. Geach, Mr. Mkombe, Ms Manfield, Ms Motsi, Ms Mufandaedza, ai Machakaire, Mai Matombo,Mr. Quell and many others who followed through the late Mr. Mufambisi (Gobi) ….. and Zaaaa.

These legends would not have done much without the unwavering support of administrative staff, hostel staff, and groundsmen. The likes of Mr. Shumbanhete, Concorde, the late Mr. Strong (Pinkton) and many others.

The Marondera high of today faces many challenges, but in the spirit and traditions of the old it soldiers on and still produces some of Zimbabwe’s finest.

All that is left of the Irrigation system

Marondera the school it has become
The HeadMaster
Academically Ndera has become one of the shining starts up there with the likes of Saint Ignatious, Kutama, and others. It is now in the top 20 schools in Zimbabwe out of 1780. The classroom teacher has become an academic entrepreneur to whom lack of resources is not a hinderance rather a step on which to grow the muscle to mentor and propel pupils of all ages into the annuls of academic prowess. With a teacher to student ratio of 1 to 60, a book to child ratio of almost 10 children per book if and only if the books are available teaching has become an art which most in the world would fail at dismally if put under the same conditions. The teachers though hard working and innovative face challenges that interrogate their conscience on a daily basis, an industry wide low moral and poor service conditions are amongst some of the challenges they continue to work in.

For academic success there are certain things that need to be in place and these include amongst other things, books, furniture, technological support such as copying machines, computers, printers, projectors, audio and visual equipment. The school has only 10 computers and one printer, it relies on BMC for duplicating when many copies are required, for example examinations. The parents association I trying to rebuild and it is visible in the classes that there is a move towards improvement. One can see an occasional new book here and there but they need help.

Marondera high was known by many in the environs of Ndera as the sports academy, you would not have been to a school in Zimbabwe if you had not been to the sports field of the “High School” the fields were sacred and as such they looked divine. For those who were at ‘Ndera during the ‘old school days’ you can remember that you needed to be wearing colours to walk the number 1 rugby field.

The grounds of the sports academy have become an eye-sore. Their lush greenery was a result of an ingenious waste water reclamation process depending on slug pools behind Cornwell for those who were there before the eighties – the then Hampshire. To get the water to the field a network of pipes was put in place and the water was pumped by an electrical water pump. The pump was stolen and so needs replacement. If this were the case the school may have been able to replace but the reclamation system is in such a state of disrepair it needs to be restored before anything else.

To put the nails on the coffin someone then went on the up-root and steal the piping that was in place for irrigating the fields. The schools grounds are in need of a facelift. The ambience of the school has been lost. I can understand why moral is low, the physical environment in which teacher and student are interacting is not uplifting. The pavilions are in such a state of disrepair they need a hand from a philanthropic giver. Because the school could not afford grounds-men and has had to operate on skeleton staff for a long time a lot of things have had to go wayside to the core business of classroom teaching.

Sometime back the parent association tried to have boreholes drilled but there was no water or is it they could not get to the water table but the end result is that there is generally a poor water supply to the school.

If the grounds of the High School were the only reason why it was called the sports academy then dealing with the grounds alone would bring the school back into form to take its throne which by now may have been taken by Peterhouse (Cakehouse), but off course it was not.

The sports teams at the Legendary high school are now competing in tattered kits just like those we used to else. They are no longer suited up spic and span as was the signature of the ‘80s when I was a wee lad walking the corridors of the green blazer. Sports kits from rugby, soccer, hockey, you name it needs an injection from a helping hand. For those whom sports have become a lifestyle a picture of you to put in the school’s hall of fame is good enough.

Because livin at Marondera high was a lifestyle everyone wanted to be part of it is important for me to paint a picture of what boarding life means at Marondera high. When I was there the biggest challenge was that the most of the beds had been condemned by the health inspectors for sagging. As I was walking the school grounds I could see the old steel beds piled up awaiting repair, Because the school has such a backlog on what needs to be done they have sequenced furniture repairs to some other time in the future after books, staff retention, buildings and all related amenities such as water and electricity.

The hostels at ‘Ndera need a lot of work just like the classroom blocks. The general state of the building need refurbishment and repair. A coat of paint would not be bad. The floors are peeling especially in Sussex. The furniture needs repair or in some cases it needs to be thrown away and new furniture purchased. Water supply is poor and so there is not enough pressure to push the water up into the storey building as such no water gets into the geysers and students have to bath in cold water, as good as this is for them, we did it by default for most of the three years we were at the high school it should be a chose or deprivation should be to some end.

The laundry rooms of all the hostels are in such a state that students now do their own washing. It may be good for them to do so but here should be the helping hand og the huge industrial machines that were the norm during my day. These are in a despicable state but the school body is in such a state it cannot deploy any funds towards this without prejudicing some core business component. HELP!!!!!!!!!!

Sporting Facilities are in an astounding state of decay, take a look at the squash courts and tell me you do not want to shed a tear, the tennis courts are no longer in existence only the posts reinforced by concrete are a constant reminder that there used to be something here. This state of affairs may have been exacerbated by the events of the past 10 years but they were a long way in the making.

Students in Science Lab

The school it should have been and still can be
The past 29 years have seen Ndera almost stagnant in any form of infrastructure development or improvement to the innovations that made it the legend it has become. 29 years of zero development in a country that has had a study growth has resulted in a school that was initially designed for 600 students, 400 borders and 200 day-scholars taking 860 plus students. This has put immense pressure on the infrastructure and it was only a matter of time before it showed.

Numerous attempts at getting the old students to engage and help to build and develop the school like you have at other schools fizzled out before anything tangible could be done. The best attempt at this was undertaken by the late Mufambisi who I understand created a database of the students and then targeted all those he felt could help the school in some way. Unfortunately for the school he was taken away before his dream could be realized.

The current headmaster, bless him is open to any one who has the school at heart. He some time back also tried to engage those he thought could help the school to no avail. It may have been the times, but the times have changed and our country is on a path of reconstruction. It is incumbent upon us then to ask our selves not what our country can do for us but what we can do for our country. There is no better place other than your own home and family than “The High School” One brick, one book one paint brush stroke and one happy teacher at a timeConcorde is Now the Librarian, Bless him

With our help with as little as $5 a month for a year all MHS students can raise enough to rebuild and extend the school to what we should have made it to some 15 years ago. It is never too late. Just to put my case across in all the years I have been in Zimbabwe Ndera maybe the only school that built one classroom, PE built a whole sub- school, Cake - house built some amazing structure and many others have done so. Only Ndera teachers have been promised housing and never lived to see it.

Ndera is the foundation of some of Zimbabwe’s finest many now living in some of the most interesting parts of the world, others shake hands with the world’s richest and most powerful and with a flick of the pen can spend 1 million dollars in one night without winching. Your school needs you now more than ever and this is the opportune time to build it into anything we may collectively want it to be in the future. These are transition years and we could make them as fresh and exciting UDI years were to those who attended Ndera then and as the post 1980 years were for us.

Wow, I got carried away writing that letter there anyway after showing my kids the high school and taking photos at the I packed my family up and we drove towards the boarder headed for what we now call home, the city of Capetown. As we drove I wonder whether I would take my kid to Marondera high school or Macheke primary school in the state they are in. When we got to Masvingo, my thoughts were wiped away and I only got to think about it now 2 weeks after my holiday in Zimbabwe. We had to pick up something from Victoria high School in Masvingo. The school definitely looked better than “The High School” but I can safely say it needs some work for me to consider taking my kids there for their high school education, well that is a story for those who went to the school but I should mention that outside the headmaster’s office was 3 brand spanking new, powerful electricity generators which the school had just got from benevolent former students. Food for thought
The future When she heard a former student was taking photo, she came to me and pitched her story. She is the chairman of the writers club and they are running a newsletter which they hope to make into a school magazine and hopefully keep the likes of me informed about their school. Their current challenge is they donot have anything to work with. No paper, no money to buy paper nor pay for printing. I thought what a great idea and how many more she could reach if they they had internet, Hey people all they want is paper and money to print. There is no internet but hopefully some one amongst us could do something about that.

What are we going to do about this?????????????????????