Water from the well

Water from the well

It’s a dog’s life

With Robert Mukondiwa

When I was sent to study in Mashonaland, the school fortunate enough to have a model citizen like me sent to it was Msengezi High School!

After having a liberal headmaster in Mr Madamombe for a while, he was transferred and another in his stead came who was stricter and frankly seen as a Marxist. He had been serving at a Mission School in Nhowe and was called Mr Makuyana.

He sported a thick dark mane of a beard on his face and was remarkably light with an auto-tune type high pitched voice. His Marxist type philosophy and Darwinist look made people call him anything from Charles Darwin to Kwinji 15 after nineties Zimbabwean footballer Makwinji Soma Phiri thanks to a corruption of his name Makuyana- (Makwinji!). The man was a great father figure and a perfectionist and disciplinarian.

If one student caught chicken pox, he would disallow the child from going home so that every child caught the disease and was therefore out of danger from the disease later in life.

If there was a crisis, he would insist that the core business was learning so he would keep students at school until the last dog died as Bill Clinton would say.

Which is no surprise that when we suffered a water shortage at school, Makuyana remained adamant we would get round it.

Our school was on a farm and hence there were several boreholes around which Makuyana insisted gave clean water.

When all the boreholes dried save one, we were sure he would give in, but his heart was so hardened that if he were Pharaoh, the Israelites would still be in Egypt to this day!

Soon the borehole started pumping very dirty water and we asked for a meeting with Mukuyana under the great Indaba tree at the boys’ hostel.

The boys went to get some water from the well in order to show him as an exhibit. We were facing a health hazard and wanted to go home. I was just a form two fellow so we let the seniors handle the crisis. True to the mentality of a boarder, the boys decided to ‘sex up the evidence’ putting in extra soil in the water to give it a deep dirty colour and make our case plausible.

Now only a boarder or a former boarding school student will tell you that going home is like a ticket to Mecca for a Muslim.

Now when the water had been ‘dealt’ with and made dirty, a rather crude mannered form three student whom I will call Frank in case he comes after me, decided to potion was still weak and boldly exposed his manhood as he added water from the bowls I his loins into the two litre container. Yes! Urine would do the ultimate trick-we decided.

Makuyana trudged in to the hostel area with his trademark pea-soup coloured vintage sits aptly know as ‘masutu emuto wenyemba’ and got down to making his case.

“You are not going anywhere,” the lovable dictator declared. “You are here to go to school and your parents want to see you study until you pass and get good grades. You do not get to study if I let you go home,” he declared.

Then we pushed our argument. The water was unsafe for drinking and we could not be exposed to such terrible water. Old Makuyana spit venom back. What type of children were we? School hating lunatics!

Despite his deep black crop of beard, Makuyana had beard root which were snow white in contrast and gave fuel to the rumour that he constantly dyed his beard.

He was making his point. We were not going anywhere and the water was safe. In the midst of the melee, old Makuyana got angry, dashed towards the two litre bottle, and without warning started gulping the concoction including Frank’s urine! In no time at all the bottle was half full, the headmaster was spitting out some debris from the soil and grass that had been added and declaring the water was safe because even he had drunk some of it. Little did he know that he had also consumed some of Frank’s DNA in the process.

Needless to say we lost that particular battle and in a few weeks time, the taps started flowing again. Until I left, there was never a humanitarian crisis that led to Makuyana releasing us off home early. He taught us discipline, honour, exemplary behaviour, but most of all he taught us that a little urine in the water time and time again is not mortally harmful. I seem to have taken after him maybe in standing my ground, but would not want to have a sip of urine in whatever way shape or form.

To this day Mr Makuyana does not know what was in the water. Indeed we gave him water, but as the hymn goes, it was not from the well.

My life is a dog’s life…but somebody’s got to live it!


  1. Makuyana was just evil!! Ndatofara that sych was done to him!!! LOL... and it had to Stun!!!

  2. so much fun in your story, had me laughing to bits


Contact Form


Email *

Message *