Phwezi Schools: Uninspiring yet a success story

The fact that the history of most private schools in the country has been jerky cannot be overemphasized. Private schools have mushroomed over the years – at some point in tens and at another in hundreds – but they have all, one by one, gone extinct for one reason or another. In this article, Nyasa Times’ Pius Nyondo tells the story of Phwezi Private Schools, from the  humble beginnings to its colourful success record in moulding some of Malawi’s greatest sons and daughters and then abandonment these sons and daughters have shamelessly shown as a token of appreciation.

Clasped at some bushy abode along the Karonga-Mzuzu M1 road, with the South Rukuru at one end and some shoddy well-covered hills at the other, Phwezi Boys and Girls secondary schools’ appearance would let an onlooker down – if the buildings that welcome a stranger are anything to go by.

The school blocks look out-dated, uninspiring and old – probably a testimony that they have served generations. But one wonders whether or not with the many doctors, lawyers, scientists and politicians, who have walked through the corridors of the mighty schools, deserve not to play a role in making sure that Mother Phwezi – established in 1982 – basks in fruits on her innumerable service at the service of humanity.

What remains of the sickbay at Phwezi Girls.---Photo by Pius Nyondo, Nyasa Times.j

What remains of the sickbay at Phwezi Girls.—Photo by Pius Nyondo, Nyasa Times.j

The resilient men and women, who Dr. D.G Simphawaka, one of the founders of the schools said would emerge from Phwezi owe this great institution a lot.

According to Zondiwe Nkhata, current headmaster of Phwezi Girls Secondary School for more than a decade now, Phwezi was founded by M.H Chipimpha Mughogho, Alick Nyasulu (a former speaker of the Malawi Parliament), Dr. D.G Simphawaka Nkhwazi and Timan S. Mangwazu on 11th November, 1981.

“They obtained a certificate to run the school in that year [1981] and a year later on 4th January 1982, the school opened as Phwezi Secondary School,” explained Nkhata.

Nkhata divulged that the school first operated as a boys and girls secondary school until 1986 when it was split into Phwezi Boys and Girls Secondary Schools.

“The reasons were because the founders realised that girls were not doing excellently on Malawi Certificate Examination (MCE) results. Only boys did well.

“The proprietors of the school then decided to separate the two schools so that more attention could be put on girls to enliven their academic performance. And true to their plan, a year later in 1987, the first girl from Phwezi was selected to go to the University of Malawi (Unima).”

The aging school head could not hide a smile coupled with a sigh of admiration for the four founders of Phwezi.

“They were great men. Very great men with a great passion for education,” he said, adding that because of strict discipline the school encourages, the girls school has managed to attract not only young women in the country but also from foreign countries including Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

 

And, it seems Nkhata’s putting off of the cap for the Phwezi Schools founders is not just for the sake of it. The vision the four had is reflected on the foundation stone they laid – the only structure that looks cleanest at the school’s premises – just as one enters the girls’ school.

While Mughogho and Mangwazu emphasized on the need for strict intellectual and moral discipline with God plus service to humanity, Nyasulu and Nkhwazi could already in their vision see great men and women emerge from the school if they all did not retreat.

For them, and that is what has remained the school’s motto over the years, they accept the challenge and God guides.

And it is not just tongue waggling about the motto. It lives in their prayers. The students and staff talk this motto with smiles, with passion, with exquisiteness.

The school’s anthem’s chorus written by late Tito Banda, a former headmaster at Phwezi Girls and turned into music by late musician Mjura Mkandawire reads thus:

We each accept

The great challenge

Knowing that God

Will always guide

 “God has seen us through,” said James Mbale, Phwezi Boys’ longest serving teacher, “and has helped us achieve great performances in Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) over the years.”

He added: “Of course for the boys’ school we have faced challenges of indiscipline here and there but overall we can boast that ours is a success story.”

And it is. There are trophies stacked in the schools’ offices won in the fields of science, sports, drama, French, among others – smiling, telling the story that the school has survived the test of time.

But at the end of the day, the humble but mighty Phwezi Schools still look dirty, uninspiring and out-dated – hungering for some little paint, little investment so that it can be home for more lawyers, doctors, politicians and young people who can continue contributing towards Malawi’s strive to achieve socio-economic greatness.

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