An encounter with history through tourism

The Herald

Leroy Dzenga Features Writer
MORE than 80 tourists, who had travelled to Masvingo from Harare gathered around Never, a travel guide whose task on the day was to unpack the history behind Great Zimbabwe ruins.

The man eloquently narrated the story of the multiple functions which the shrine served, leaving many in awe with the knowledge he dispensed.

Part of the travelling party who had bragged about visiting the ruins multiple times before the trip, were schooled on the dynamics that surrounded the monuments, before they were a citadel of historic magnificence.

During the tour, many spoke of how their assumed familiarity was broken down.

“We learnt a lot about Great Zimbabwe. All along, we understood that the structures are breathtaking but the stories behind their existence were not taught in schools. It takes going to the place to understand how it came into existence,” Nadine Dhliwayo, who was part of the contingent said.

Many who travelled on the day learnt lessons on the history behind the heritage site

Dhliwayo added, “It is unfortunate that there are efforts being made to preserve the country’s historic knowledge, but many Zimbabweans do not travel to consume it. I am not sure if it is a marketing issue, high cost of travelling or lack of interest, but the authorities have to fix this.”

Another traveller, Nesbert Katemauswa did not know that early archeological activities are responsible for most of the depreciation at the ruins.

“I had no idea that early attempts at finding treasure at Great Zimbabwe resulted in the disturbance of some structures. Like the conical tower, it used to be significantly taller than it is, but was damaged by explorers who believed that there was gold in the conical tower.”

Tourists also learnt of the varying accounts of history surrounding the building UNESCO endorsed as a heritage site. Many, including Europeans have laid claim to the architecture.

This is despite glaring indications that these were indigenous, evidenced by the existence of other similar structures like Khami (Matebeleland North) and Chisvingo ruins (Mashonaland Central.

Tourists getting into the great enclosure at Great Zimbabwe ruins recently

The Karanga village is another place where historic depth was exhibited during the tour. This is a model village where the past life of the inhabitants in the hill that houses Great Zimbabwe is re-enacted.

Manned by senior citizens who obtained the knowledge they share via oral tradition, the village gives the visitors a glimpse of how life was before Western civilisation came through colonialism.

Relics that artistically captured totems were an instant hit among the travellers who bought souvenirs for their families, while others went as far as acquiring herbs which were said to have been consumed by kings who ruled the land.

Pamushana Africa Transport Group have been on a domestic tourism drive where they provide low cost transport and bookings to their patrons once every two months.

Over the past four months, they have taken close to 200 people to Nyanga and Masvingo, respectively.

It was in Masvingo, where many who had signed up for the journey learnt that Great Zimbabwe is more than just walls.

According to the Pamushana Africa representatives, their next destination is Kariba where they hope travellers will benefit, not only from the indulgence of aesthetically pleasing views, but the knowledge attached to the many tourist destination across the country.

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