The Tongabezi Trust School was thrilled to host the Oxford Alumni Rowing team as part of the Livingstone Sports Festival and the 5th Zambezi International Regatta.
The teams visited our school as part of their trip, as Tongabezi Lodge was the main sponsor of the Oxford crew for this event. After hearing about the history and background of the school from Emma and Jay, we invited the crew to have a tour of the school ending at the amphitheatre. They were greeted by our Senior and Junior Choir who presented them with personalised Tongabezi caps, as well as a handmade gift made by our Women’s Sewing Group and cards created by the children.
The Oxford team sat for some entertainment by the choirs who had made up some brilliant rowing pun-filled songs for the event! This was followed by our National Champion Traditional Dancers who wowed the team with their moves.
After saying goodbye to the children, the team headed to see Tongabezi and spend time around the gorgeous lap pool. Louise, Zuwi and the team made some delicious snacks for the team, and as it was so hot, many of them went for a swim! The team were taken aback by the beauty of the lodge and the wonderful views from the deck and they were extremely gushing about the school. By the end of their time with us, all we could hear was utterings of ‘can’t we stay’ and ‘do we really have to go’! We hope they will be able to come back and visit us again soon.
Saturday was Regatta Day. It was an epic adventure, and supporting Oxford was awesome and an adrenaline-filled experience of a lifetime. We sat with the Oxford cruise as they were preparing for their first race and gave them encouraging words and took photos with them. Ladies crew raced first and by this point, we were right on the banks of the Zambezi to be able to get the best view of their races. As the teams were getting ready to race we saw a huge herd of elephants crossing the river, it was such an amazing spectacle and fantastic for our students to see. We even saw some naughty hippos get in the way of the race which delayed the start! There was an electric atmosphere at the boat club with lots of people cheering on all of the teams, but no one could out-sing our amazing Tongabezi Trust School choir with their fantastic Oxford chants – the kids sang their hearts out and they cheered and laughed and had a wonderful time. We were die-hard fans!
We wandered around to mingle with the crowds and to talk about our #ThisIsHowWeRow and take some photos – we even got interviewed by a Zimbabwean news reporter! Each time the crews were finished with a race they came to sit with us on the banks to watch the other river activities going on. The snacks from Tongabezi were delicious, big thanks to Tongabezi for our yummy lunches. It truly was a great experience and we would do Saturday again 1000 times over!
Written by Emma Kennedy, Tujatane School