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Overflowing Pride: The Story of Chengeta Primary & Secondary Schools!


One of the projects I was involved in back in 2008 when I was based at Chengeta Safari Lodge, was building what was to become Chengeta Primary and Chengeta Secondary School. The original school was located in the old tobacco-drying sheds of a farm. The farm is on the main Ngezi Road equidistant from Chengeta Safari Lodge and Pamuzinda Safari Lodge. Most of the primary age children of our staff attended. The existing “school buildings” were proving inadequate both in terms of size and facilities. So, the decision was taken to build a new school.

Teacher & Students at the old Chengeta Primary school building
Teacher and students: Chengeta school in 2008

The Site

The children previously had to sit on the floor in the old buildings. So, the first step to improving the situation was to manufacture several benches and tables for the pupils to sit at. The tables and benches were manufactured in Chengeta’s workshops. At the same time, we obtained a site for the proposed school. An open area where the local cattle were regularly grazed.

The parents became involved and produced enormous numbers of farm bricks and we set about the first classroom. This was to be a double, and a toilet block of several cubicles. Initially, there was no running water on the site. However, I had managed to obtain a very large metal drum in Harare. This was set up and filled, when required, with water carried in by tractor.

A visit by an elderly water diviner highlighted a potential spot for a borehole. The spot was duly drilled and, lo and behold, the water gushed out. This ensured a constant supply of fresh water for the school as well as the local population and their animals.

The Inauguration

To inaugurate the new buildings, when they were finished, we had an open day. All the children, parents and local politicians attended. Lunch was provided and numerous speeches took place.

I could never have visualized, back then, what our initially small project would develop into. From the humble beginnings of one double classroom and toilet block for primary age children. The school had now grown into a total of eight double classrooms split between the two schools. A second toilet block has been added together with a fine assembly hall, kitchen and administration offices.

Headmaster and Phil Dobinson chat next to newly completed toilet block

2018, 10 years later Chengeta Primary And Secondary Schools: Thanks to all our Sponsors

All that has been lacking throughout was a power source, as the costs of running-in main electricity were prohibitive. Fortunately, on 15 November 2018, a Solar system for both the school and Teachers’ accommodation has been installed. Thanks to the generosity of our many benefactors and local businesses!

The electricity will enable Chengeta Primary and Secondary Schools to the provide computer training and its associated technology. Skills that are so important throughout today’s world for a successful economy and the employment prospects of the students concerned. The initial number of children expected to attend was estimated at approximately 240. That has now blossomed to a total of over 600 between the two schools. The Primary School has some 430 and the Secondary School approximately half that number.

Chengeta Primary and Secondary Schools 2018 Awards ceremony

It was my great pleasure to be invited to the annual Primary School Merit Awards prize-giving ceremony on 09 Novemeber 2018. There were an enormous number of prizes and certificates to be distributed. I shared this pleasant part of the day with the guest of honour from a local mining company and the Lady Wife of the Lodge’s Managing Director.

I found the entire proceedings emotionally moving. Seeing all those little happy faces sitting there in the now long-completed assembly hall was so rewarding.

Judging by the volume of the vocal encouragement there was no doubt, as each child concerned went to the stage to receive their award, about the amount of support they received from mums, dads, aunts, uncles and grandparents. There was almost a party atmosphere and all who attended seemed able to participate in the proceedings.  Various individual children, as well as groups, all played their parts. I was amazed at how unselfconscious were all the children involved despite some being of a very young age. They spoke into the microphone loudly and clearly and those with roles in the plays carried them out to perfection.

Well done to everyone involved – and thank you all for inviting me. It was a great trip down memory lane!

Students in class: 2018
Children in newly-built classrooms

Guided Tours Available

Zambezi Cruise and Safaris’ tours that incorporate Chengeta or Pamuzinda Safari Lodges, offer a guided tour of the school and its facilities as an optional extra activity. The tour provides an ideal opportunity to see, first hand, our progress to date – despite all the obstacles we’ve encountered – and be able to contribute to our continued plans for the future either financially or materially. Gifts including pens, pencils, crayons, colouring books or, indeed, anything that would appeal or be useful to school-age children anywhere, would be thankfully received and welcomed with open arms.

Take a hanky as this can be an emotional experience.

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Overflowing Pride: The Story of Chengeta Primary & Secondary Schools!

Overflowing Pride: The Story of Chengeta Primary & Secondary Schools!
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