Isdore Guvamombe

Back in the village, in the land of milk, honey and dust or Guruve I had grown up herding cattle and tethering goats. Primary school was several kilometres from home and for seven years I spent my time between school and tending to cattle, goats and chicken. I dug for mice a lot and trapped birds or all kinds.

I had done very little hunting for plains game with contemporary boys, because the war of liberation restricted free movement.

After sitting for my Grade seven examinations, I surprised even myself with a good four units, a unit per subject. Well, that shook the village and send tongues wagging and wedging. It was a feat no village boy had achieved that time.

I then found myself having to separate with other boys- my friends- to go to boarding school and that was St Anne’s Goto High School in Wedza. Far, far, and wide from my village in Guruve.

The biggest headache was, I had neither set foot in Harare nor any town. I had made a few attempts to go into Mvurwi, without real success. But I had to go past Harare to Wedza, alone, for our poor family could not afford escorting me. My sisters, Isdollah and Isabellah, were firmly behind me in school and my father was seeking to create a brand of educated children and make a difference in the village. He was investing in their education too!

The journey to school started around 2am when my mother woke me up. I had already been helped to pack my trunk. I had a few goodies that included roasted chicken, Mazowe Orange Crush, roasted ground nuts and others.

At about 3am we set off for the bus stop in the dark, serenaded by the sounds of crickets and frogs. My heart pounded with a mixture of fear and anxiety. I was going into an educational jungle alone. I had never set foot at a boarding school. It was all imagination, fertile or poor. Imagination!

As dawn imperceptibly gave way to sunrise, the bus engine rumbled, first as a distant cruise, getting noisier and noisier as it approached and then it rumbled to a rattling halt. There was a sudden hiss and puff as the conductor took my trunk to the carrier in skilful haste.

From the roof of the bus, he kicked and punched to signal take off, all in style and I sat by the window, almost crying that I was leaving the family. My family. My mother. My father. My sisters. My goats and cattle. The Boys!

My mother shouted for me to remember I had money tucked in my stockings, secured by a rubber band. She embarrassingly shouted about it.  I looked around for response from other passengers but there seemed to be none.

The bust took off, repeating the loading feet at each bus stop until we got to Mvurwi. There it took a turn into a terminus. The sun was just up women ran to the windows selling their wares. I bought nothing. I was too anxious to get hungry. I could not wait to get to Harare. I needed to see the robot. It was talk of the village. The tarred roads.

After a few hours we found ourselves in Malborough. There I saw my first robot on intersection Harare Drive and Mazowe Road. I watched with awe as it changed and more and more robots beckoned. Today we call them traffic control lights. I was elated.

But I still feared transit connection at Mbare. The bus stopped at Rotten Raw, opposite the courts. There the conductor announced the alighting of those going into town and those like me going to Mbare remained seated. After many people had alighted, we took off the Mbare, just a spitting distance away.

Two things made me uncomfortable- I wore a pant for the first time and I had a rubber band blocking free blood flow on the left foot stocking to secure the school fees. My leg was swollen. I dashed to the toilet and sought privacy. It was damning dirty but I had no option. I only needed privacy to adjust the pant and indeed to change the money from one leg to another. I did that in that stink. It was quite a hassle avoiding contact with dirty. Excreta.

Finally I dashed back to find my trunk the only one left on the bus roof. The conductor lowered it, but not before saying a few nasty things, reminding me that we were no longer in the village.

I changed the bus and got into Chawasaria and there I saw boys and girls wearing the same uniform with me. Very few had well-fitting clothes. We are mainly dwarfs in giant’s robs. We got to school at 4 pm only to be welcome by bigger boys who tested our food and enjoyed teasing us.