If there is one person my memory hasn’t deleted for a lengthy time it is my primary school teacher, Mr Tonde Mazimpaka. Whenever it was his week as duty teacher, life for pupils in the school was hell. As required, we were supposed to report for the early morning class sessions by 6.45am.
Teacher Tonde would constantly stand with his long bakora(cane) to punish any late comers. The strokes of the cane received for being late were equivalent to the number of minutes you missed on the clock. If you arrived six minutes late, you would receive six piercing strokes, seven for seven, and the pattern continued.
Our time of rescue came when Mr. Tonde bought a mobile phone – a Nokia 3310. Mobile phones in those days were not that widespread as very few owned them. That morning, I remember him coming to the assembly and announcing to the whole school the news of his new acquisition and gave us all his phone number. He instructed us to give the number to our parents in case they wanted to connect with the school. Only him and Doudou, the Mayor’s daughter owned phones.
In the school compound, there was one spot near the assembly ground that had a strong network reception. He built a stand there and used to place the phone on top at maximum volume, determined not to miss a call.
That fateful Friday morning during his duty week, seven of us in Doudou’s company were late by 15 minutes. None of us was ready to receive 15 canes. Peeping around the corner, he stood at the gate, his bakora firmly held, ready to attack. Doudou was smart.
Since we had his number, Doudou dialed it, aware of his reaction when his phone rang. He immediately ran to receive the call, 50 meters away, leaving the gate unmanned. We straightaway dashed behind the block and into class. Before receiving the phone, Doudou hang up. She has been our heroine since and all late comers wished to be in her company. It remained a top secret though.
As told to Karen Mumbi