Zimbabwe impressions

I am now left with memories of a two week stay in Bulawayo, second city in Zimbabwe. A young woman in the Museum wanted me to visit Harare and to teach me the Shona language, an offer I’d have loved to have accepted!
The National Natural History Museum is a good starting place. It’s exhibits, while not a substitute for Hwange or Mabuto Game Reserves, inform you of the wide range of species of mammals, reptiles, birds, insects, flora and fauna that exist in this attractive country. It still contains to the surprise of some an account of Cecil John Rhodes and his final laying to rest in the Matopos (or Matobos) Hills. Evidently the Shona-led government has been talking about the removal of his, Jameson and others graves from the spectacular site where it exists. The Ndebele are less keen to do this, and even now there is some muttering about their tribute to him at his funeral. Less clear are where the bodies of Mzilikazi and Lobengula, Ndebele Kings, are laid to rest in these spectacular hills with their incredible rock formations. Among them are caves exhibiting prehistoric paintings of animals along with figures of hunters showing what are said to be magical lines of force.
What interested me was the exhibit which showed three skeletons, one badly crushed, which were retrieved from a gold mine dating back 500 years. Evidently there had been an earth tremor which had led to the fragile roof collapsing on the two women and a man. One of the women had tried to escape t up the ventilation shaft, but had fallen back. To me this was evidence of African involvement in the trading invoving both Arabs and Portuguese from both East and West Coasts. While the country and adopted the name Zimbabwe after the ancient stone structures, the name Monomatapa had also been a contender after the black empire which had flourished in the region.
I was disappointed at not being able to get to Great Zimbabwe in the time available, but I did manage to visit the site of Khami, just to the west of Bulawayo. Through an international effort thsi is being reconstructed and exhibits the same wall patterns as found at Great Zimbabwe. The site is quite extensive and one wall being rebuilt is quite impressive. Right at the top a Portuguese Cross is found. Khami followed on after Great Zimbabwe’s decline.

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