Educational Journey with EPHAT MUDENDA
WHEN you meet someone in the street who smiles at you, a quick thought that you have is that they recognise you, and you’ll try to recall where exactly you met them before.
“Your face looks familiar,” you may say after a formal greeting, as one also insists that at least you should remember one place where you could have possibly met.
Oftentimes, the place that quickly comes to your mind is your former school – primary, secondary, college or university. Of course, you may also think of the church that you belong to, public houses, a club that you visit frequently, workplaces which you go to as part of your work schedule, places where you often conduct workshops from, etc.
“Northmead Secondary School; 2004 to 2008.” Confirmed. Memories are rekindled and, inevitably, your meeting brings about a feeling of great happiness that makes you talk, even for a brief moment, about your schooldays. Looking at how the person standing before you has changed, physically, and sometimes socially, makes you truly appreciate your educational journey.
You begin to feel like you owe your former school or college something, and that you must ‘pay back’ because you are sincerely and deeply indebted to that institution which offered you all that you needed for your future success; or is it present success?
Now, for you, part of that journey could have been undertaken at Munali, Chizongwe, Sefula, Lwitikila, Matero Girls, Hillcrest, Firstrate, Olympia High, Chassa, Njase, Highridge, Temweni, Highland High, St Marks, etc., and later at the University of Zambia, Kwame Nkrumah, Copperbelt University, Dzitandizeni Trades School, Livingstone Teacher Training College, Evelyn Hone College, ZCAS, Lusaka Trades Training Institute, Chainama College of Health Sciences, Cavendish University – you name it, that’s your alma mater.
Some people have made it a point that they should remember their alma mater – i.e. the school, college or university that they went to – in a special way by being part of the alumni and participating actively in their respective associations’ planned activities.
During my primary school days in the ‘90s I used to hear of associations such as Munali Old Boys Association (MOBA). It was always good to know that even long after people had left secondary school, they could still come together and organise events that would enable them raise funds and other resources to be channelled towards the day-to-day operations of their former school.
This is a noble gesture that should be emulated even by those who spent several years in boarding (secondary) where life was not anything to celebrate about. Nshima with kapenta and beans full of dirt, snails and grass, among others, was the main diet that made each day seem like an eternity. Teachers with strict disciplinarian principles added to what you considered as ‘total torture’. Prefects, too, were a menace.
Life was unbearable. Hardships included lack of enough resources for your upkeep. The only money you held was for a fare to take you back home at the end of the term.
And as you finally left school after your five, three or two years of study, probably you vowed not only to stop eating kapenta and beans, but also never to set foot in that school again, especially after getting your certificate.
But there comes an ‘epiphany’, a moment of realisation; one looks back and considers those challenges that they encountered at school as having been stepping stones to lucrative careers and successes scored to date. That positive sense of independence, hard work, self-discipline, assertiveness, and a desire to contribute towards the well-being of society must have continuously been nurtured since those school days.
If you are not a member of that association for former students at the school that you attended, it is high time you joined the rest of the institution’s alumni so that together you can enhance the image and operations of your former school’s various activities.
Where such an association is non-existent, it’s never too late for former pupils to come together, especially with the present platforms offered by the social media, such as WhatsApp and Facebook.
Finally, alumni associations help bring together people of diverse backgrounds into one large ‘family’ where participants don’t only aim to add value to their former schools, but also share knowledge and experiences, and promote a sense of community service, unity, peace and national development.
Now, remember your school and see how best you can help it move forward as it supports today’s learners.