As pledged in this post, I will now review some of the most exciting primary school teachers that made a huge impact on my academic life. The list is as follows:

  1. My granny, Nyangwira: She used to teach Standard One and Standard 7 (Needle Work) classes. She used to take me along to her Standard One class from the age of three because there was no one to stay with me at home. As a result, I learnt how to count 1 up to 10 and the alphabet much earlier.

    In rural places such as Mzokoto, there were no kindergartens. I officially enrolled at the School for my Standard One when I was five. My granny used to teach me and her niece, Jane, a lot of stuff at home. Jane’s assimilation of the stuff was better than mine but I was no slouch at all because I used to be in the top three in all tests. My granny was a no nonsense lady. Most grannies treat their grand kids softly but Nyangwira was so different. She would whip me both at school and at home when I mess up. I had nowhere to hide. Besides teaching me, she used to force me to go to attend Sunday school. This enabled me to know the Bible from a tender age.

  2. Mrs Kasambara (Nyamtika): Nyamtika, as we used to fondly call her, taught me in Standards One and Five. In my Standard One, my granny deliberately put me in Nyamtika’s class to prevent conflicts during assessment. Nyamtika was a good and very motherly teacher. She used to take us as her own children. I really enjoyed her lessons in Standard Five because by that time I had grown up a bit and I have vivid memories of the likes of late Nganile Silungwe, Mwango Shumba, Twambilire Munde, McFidden Chihana, Kazadi Patemba, who were my class mates at that time. If some of you are reading this, please give me a shout. Late Nganile and Twambilire used to compete fiercely against me for the number one slot. Late Nganile used to be a star performer but with time, her performance went down such that the real battle remained between me and Twambilire.

  3. Mr Kamuvwe Munthali: Mr Kamuvwe taught me in Standards Four, Seven (English) and my first year in Standard 8 (English and Geography).He is one of the strictest teachers that I had met at Mzokoto. He knew his English and Geography quite well. I will always remember him for his vast knowledge of Geography. This is the man who could accurately draw the maps of different parts of the world from the top of his head. For instance, he could draw a map of the Americas and label all the major features i.e. the Amazon river and its tributaries, the Andes mountains and its peaks (Aconcagua, Chimborazo and Cotopaxi), the Rockies, the Appalachians, the Great Lakes, the Niagara Falls, the Welland Canal, the Saint Lawrence Sea Way, the Mississippi River etc. His explanation of the operation of the Welland Canal was top notch. He used to explain as if he had been to all those places. It was really great to recall his lessons in 2006 when I visited the Niagara Falls. Mr Kamuvwe Munthali retired some years ago. He now serves as a Group Village Headman at Phwakambwa, a few kilometers after Phwezi Secondary Schools as you go to Karonga.

  4. Mr Muyaba: Late Muyaba taught me in Standard 6. He was a very enterprising teacher. He is the one who taught me the right pronunciation for a number of words including lieutenant, Witwatersrand, Windhoek. I used to enjoy his Geography and History lessons. His description of the Drakensberg mountains, Cape Town’s Table Mountain, the river Nile etc was matchless. No student could sleep in his class when he starts describing Dr David Livingstone’s missionary trips to Africa. This description used to end with a very sorrowful Tumbuka song which goes like this:

    Livingstone mama, eeeeeh Livingstone mama.
    Livingstone mama walikufwira muno.
    Vyamukati mama eeeeh vyamukati mama.
    Vyamukati mama tilikusunga muno.

    (This song applauds Dr David Livingstone for his missionary work in Africa.It continues to say that Livingstone died in Africa and that his heart was buried here in Africa.)

  5. Mr Kasambara: Mr Kasambara, the husband to Nyamtika taught me in Standard Seven. This one was the strictest teacher in my primary school life. He used to give tough punishments and that when he tells you that you will not pass his exams, it was surely going to happen like that. Some people had to move to neighboring schools in order to bypass his Standard Seven class. They only came back to Mzokoto for Standard Eight after passing Standard Seven at the other school. But in my case, I remained in his class and I always had to make sure that I do everything right. Kasambara was a no nosense man. One of the greatest things that I will not forget about him is that he made us memorize the multiplication table from 2 up to 12 on a single day by having us locked up in class. You had to demonstrate that you have successfully memorized the multiplication table in order to be released. That “detention” worked wonders. The whole class mastered the multiplication table on a single day. I was told that the last group was released around 5:30pm.In my case, I was released at about 1:40pm.This was not that bad considering that we used to knock off at 1:10pm.

  6. Mr. Maunda: Late Maunda, who used to serve as the headmaster, taught me Arithmetic in my first year in Standard Eight. You see, after reaching Standard Eight, my performance in Arithmetic was terrible. But my performance in other subjects remained excellent. Up to now, I do not know why I took a downward plunge in Arithmetic like that. But sometimes, I think that it was because too much was expected from me and that there were so many repeaters who were star performers. I will, however, give credit to late Maunda for revolutionizing my Arithmetic skills. The first term Arithmetic results were atrocious. Out of a class of about 120 students, only nine passed. The pass mark was 50%. My grade was 48%. Mr Maunda made me along with other failures lie down in a circle formation on a lawn in full view of everyone including some notorious and noisy Standard One kids. He went round the circle whipping everyone frequently and announcing to everybody watching that these people are dull (ivi ni vingundu). That experience really pained me and I generally take it as a turning point in my Mathematical skills. Mr Maunda formed an Arithmetic club, for which we were meeting every Sunday afternoon. Everyone who had an Arithmetic problem was bringing it to the star performers who were helping us solving them out. To prevent the dullness tag and the embarrassment of being whipped publicly after the next Arithmetic test, I made sure that I attended the club’s meetings every Sunday and I must acknowledge that I gained a lot. The gurus who were helping us did a great job such that in the second term, my Arithmetic grade went up to 67 and in the mock exams, it was 84. But the sad part was that noone was selected for Secondary School Education (0% selection rate) from Mzokoto that year. Mr Maunda got transferred to Usowoya and many star students left the school either for Distance Education Centers or for other schools that had better selection rates.

  7. Mr. Chawinga: Mr Chawinga taught me Agriculture, Geography, History and Civics in my second year of Standard Eight. He is arguably the most intelligent primary school teacher that I have met in my life. He studied with my uncle at Robert Blake but his performance in the final exams was not very good because of sickness. Otherwise, he should have gone very far with his education. His lessons were easy to follow and exciting. His notes were also very clear.

  8. Mr Phaka Mbale: I remember Mr Phaka Mbale as a Tumbuka person who could teach Chichewa as if he was from the Central Region. Everyone used to enjoy his Chichewa teaching skills. He could spice his lessons with some jokes. It was just so exciting. The final exams were pretty easy because Phaka Mbale had done a good work throughout the year.

  9. Mr. Chavula: Mr Chavula was one of the teachers who had been forced to go back North following a government decree that every teacher must be transferred to his own region. In the South, he used to teach at Namalimwe.He was an excellent Arithmetic and Science teacher. I was told that his former school used to send lots of students to secondary schools. He taught me as I was repeating my Standard Eight. He came at the right time. My Arithmetic performance was on the rise. His lessons just helped to establish me as an upcoming scientist. He also helped repairing our damaged self confidence following the debacle of the previous year when no one got selected from the school. With Chavula around, our morale was sky high because he was a great motivator. What the politicians had intended for evil (chucking him out of Blantyre) ended to be to our own good.

  10. Mrs Munyenyembe (Nyamasango): Nyamasango replaced Mr. Maunda as head of Mzokoto Primary School. She had moved to the Mzokoto area from Lilongwe because her husband had started working for Phwezi Foundation. Besides her excellent English teaching skills, she was very good administrator and devout Christian in the Livingstonia Synod, of which I was a member. We benefited from her immensely. As I said in one of my posts, I never saw her whip any student. She was very good at advising students and most students, even the very troublesome ones, used to obey her. She was a real mother. Her combination with Mr. Kamuvwe Munthali, another devout Christian, who was serving as Deputy Head took the school to greater heights that year. Mrs Munyenyembe taught me English. She was a great teacher. But I will remember her much more for her moral values and leadership skills. With Mrs Munyenyembe around, Mzokoto Primary School started sending at least five students to secondary school, most of whom ended up going to the University. For instance, in our year, six of us got selected to different secondary schools and out of that, Cullen Mayuni and myself eventually graduated with BSc degrees in Engineering while Panji Mkandawire (now Mrs Nkhono) and John Nyirenda graduated with BSc degrees in Agriculture.