Former Studio 263 actor and popular DJ, Tinopona Katsande, has, spoken about her school days.

Writing on Facebook, Tinopona said:

It’s a long read so DON’T start if you not going to finish πŸ€·πŸΎβ€β™€οΈ

#FlashbackFriday

One of the schools I attended is St. John’s High School, Emerald Hill. I have so many fond memories of this chapter in my life’s journey but I suppose the biggest takeaway I still hold in my heart today is the power of team work.
Being the youngest in my family, the gap between me and my older siblings was significant so I grew up basically with a double dose
1. Last born syndrome and
2. Only child syndrome
…. recipe for unmitigated disaster one is not careful . lol

Throughout junior school ( a private A school as it was called then ) I ran things πŸ™ˆπŸ˜. Ahhh shem , at junior school ndaivawonesa moto mavheti aye shem sorry πŸ™ˆπŸ€¦πŸΎ.
We were not many black kids initially ( early 80’s) and EVERYTIME I went in for a new term , just before my father prayed over us for the new term ( I was a boarder from grade 1) , he would hand over my $5 pocket money for the next three weeks and give me the IDENTIFY speech , ( as I later coined it). FYI that $5 green note would buy me tuck equivalent to perhaps tuck with $30 USD today – NO JOKE

” Tinopona, urikuenda kunogara nevarungu now. Vane maitiro nemaonero avo. Don’t be foolish. Vazhinji vatema varikuda nokuchiva this opportunity that you have kudzidza nevarungu so you must learn from them but above all you must teach them “. This was my interpretation of “teach them” –

I would arrive at school, hair neatly plaited in the famous 1000 lines freehand ( which I loathed beyond measure πŸ˜•) , my shoes sparkling shiny , everything BRAND NEW EVERY TERM from socks to lhat and ofcause a trunk full of the best Beacon candy . At that time EVERYTHING from SA was considered the best over ANYTHING , So when my school mates were being dropped off in their farm buckies with there Charon’s biscuits and Crystal candy mint sweets πŸ™Š 😝, ini nda dropwa hangu ne a majestic golden brown , two door , left hand drive Tornado Ols Mobile ( my father was in love with American cars) or a mint condition blue Pulsa that purred like a cat as it drove, I told myself ,

” Tin you are the shiiiiii 😎,. You may not have that effortless flowing blond hair , you may not be able to tie your hair up in a whip my hair back and forth pony tail, but you will not be intimated or feel any less a pretty girl. “.
You see being black with ” mufushwa hair” as my white peers often referred to my hair , I longed to be white just so that I could have that “go back you silly hair “. ( Wanga uri hupwere munandiregereraewo 🀦🏾) Anyway point is ndaitonga ini Mwana waSamson .

Fast forward to High School – , hahada I was put into check with just ONE Hail Mary .
Firstly it was a great adjustment mentally and emotionally. I was coming from an institution that banned speaking in Shona at school until I was in grade 6 when Mai Mucha the ONLY BLACK TEACHER for years and years was incorporate into the curriculum to teach us Shona and still , Shona was only spoken in class πŸ€ͺ, to an environment where Shona was spoken freely and actually encouraged by the teachers NOT TO BE SPOKEN IN CLASS UNLESS IT WAS THE SHONA CLASS ( Shout out Miss Hobwani ) . FYI , St John’s High School Emerald Hill was not by choice . I had failed to get into my top 3 options for form 1 , Chisi Senior, Peter House and Convent because I DISMALLY failed all the entrance exams because my math was so poor. To date , I see numbers I get an instant migraine but if I see figures as in $$$ figures my brain goes into auto over drive. πŸ€·πŸΎβ€β™€οΈπŸ˜ . My father used to defend me by saying ” musamumanikidze, she doesn’t have to be a mathematician to count money ” πŸ‘©πŸΎβ€πŸŽ“πŸ€ͺ. The fact that my older siblings had all passed through the same St John’s is at least what spared me and got me into the school.

Anyway , St John’s was like this :
1. No fancy hairstyles . You ALL do the 1000 lines or ponytail your natural / processed hair
2. No extra clothes . Stick to what is on the boarding requirements list which basically was School uniform ONLY . Pamwe pama pejama apo ndopaizobudawo kaswag kako if you had . Infact, civis day was strategically placed always on the Friday we were going for an exit weekend so that you leave them at home . πŸ‘©πŸΎβ€βœˆοΈ
3. Non of this extra trunk packed with beacon sweets . You want candy ? you buy from the limited array of goodies in the school tuckshop ( needless to say the Charon’s biscuits and Crystal mint sweets 🀦🏾🀦🏾🀦🏾)
4. Mota dzenyu regardless how fancy , mayi paka ukooo OUTSIDE the school wall , along the main road and you would walk into the pearly gates of Rita House ( the hostel) just you and your belongings. No fancy Roccafella majestic driveway up from the school gate to the hostles where everyone could be wowed by who was dropped off in what car like at Chisi Junior .
5. And probably most importantly and the biggest adjustment- pangapasina varungu 😱. I think in the entire school I counted 2 white looking students in the whole school and I remember this because the first thing my mum asked me after ” so how is school was kune varungu vangani muclass menyu ?” And I replied ZERO. She had a mini heart attack 🀣🀣🀣.

At St John’s High School I learnt some of the core principles that make me Tinopona Katsande today. I learnt things that have become a foundation for me on which I raise my children today. I learnt the strength of versatility, I learnt tolerance, I learnt to be humble , I learnt not to be judgemental, I learnt to share , I learnt to unite and be united – I learnt what it is to be a team player AND WIN .

I came from an exclusive elitist environment ( and nothing wrong with that by the way because to be of privilege is NOT A SIN ) to a we are ALL equal in this place environment. I learnt with people that were coming from such different backgrounds in comparison to mine. It was a real mixed bag from students who lived in diggs in Mt Pleasant with their ensuit bedrooms to students who caught the Zupco from Mufakose daily coming from a one room set up. My four years at St John’s High School played the most important role in defining what kind of a woman I would end up being . Solid, a defender of others who sometimes can’t defend themselves and a person who identifies value and goodness in all around me .

Albeit , the nuns played a significant part in that ( Shout out Sr Elizabeth, Sr Jaccinta , Sr Theo , Sr Aurial, Mr Azvedo ( forgive my wrong spellings ) to mention but a few , it is my peers who UNKNOWN TO THEM crafted me and made me a better version of myself . We were so very close in school. We had a girl band even , we played and supported each other in sports , we didn’t do all that white folk sleep over pyjama party Chisi Junior stuff 😝😝😝,. because once it was home time it was mazvake mazvake till next term ,but once on campus we were a formidable , indomitable unit. We were A TEAM.

I’ve never really reached out and thanked anyone from the class of 97′ St John’s High School , and it’s so very unfortunate I didn’t make a deliberate effort to stay intouch with many as I moved back to private school settings for A level ( Hillcrest College Mutare) ,. but I will forever cherish them all.

TO THE CLASS OF ST JOHNS HIGH SCHOOL 1997 πŸ₯‚πŸ₯‚πŸ₯‚πŸ₯‚ as I sing
” Timhu Timhu ndikusotere timhu…”