Zimbabwe

the image has been sourced from here

Zimbabwe is an African kingdom that existed at the period around 1220-1450 A.D. It was founded by the Shona people and is famous for its capital,Great Zimbabwe. It also contains more stone ruins and it lies a few miles from the road which links Harare to Johannesburg.
The Great Zimbabwe contains the largest stone structures in Southern Africa until recent times. These stone structures were built with no bonding between them. What is more amazing is that, the individual blocks used weighed up to a tone or more. From the stone structures we get the name Zimbabwe which comes from the Shona words “dzimba dza mabwe ( sounds a lot like nyumba ya mawe in Kiswahili) which means “ house of stone”. Reminds one of the pyramids doesn’t it? Very extensive structure built using large boulders and no bonding between the stones.
Zimbabwe is also famous for large soapstone birds found in the ruins. The image of the soapstone bird features on the flag of Zimbabwe.

There are over a hundred and forty of sites of stone ruins but a lot of their artifacts were ruined in the earlier 20th century by European explorers looking for gold. Zimbabwe, like most Africa kingdoms, flourished by controlling the ivory and gold trade from the surrounding regions. These treasure hunters believed that King Solomon’s mines could be found amongst the ruins. A book written by H. Rider Haggard, King Solomon’s Mines, that was published in 1885 helped to popularize this misbelieve.
It is said that the founders of Zimbabwe could have come from another kingdom that had been founded earlier called Mapungubwe. The site of Mapungubwe is a hill found in South Africa near the Limpopo River. The local population believed that the site was sacred but talking or even pointing to the hill where the site lay was taboo. It was sacred to the great ones amongst their ancestors, who had buried secret treasures there.
In 1932 a South African farmer got an African who gave away the secret. The local pointed out the hill and showed him the concealed route to climbing up the hill. They went there and later on reported their findings. Investigations on the ruins were entrusted to the University of Pretoria. The discovery was kept as a secret until 2002 when the University of Pretoria was undergoing renovations. A large number of the artifacts collected were subsequently found locked away and forgotten in a storage room. The architect contracted to do the renovations at the University, came across this room and had to break through the door as the keys were nowhere to be found and no one had any knowledge of what was in the room. Hmmmmm…..well if you were running an apartheid government…..
Mapungubwe means “place where jackals eat” in Venda. It is derived from the word phungubwe – Venda for jackal- as the hill was littered with human bones which attracted scavengers. The elite in the kingdom were buried on the hill. They were buried with their wealth and a lot of gold and pottery artifacts were found at Mapungubwe.

Image sourced from here.

Around 1430, Prince Nyatsimba Mutota of the Zimbabwe kingdom went north in search of salt. He conquered land in the north- between the Zambezi and the Limpopo rivers- and formed a rival kingdom,the kingdom of Mutapa. The Kingdom was also known as the Mwene Mutapa kingdom or the Mono Motapa kingdom which means “ land of the conquered” in Shona. The Kingdom of Mutapa eclipsed Zimbabwe as the economic and political power of the region within a generation.
The Rozwi or Rovzi kingdom was believed to have been founded by a man called Changamire Dombo. The Rozwi was formed from several Shona states that dominated the plateau of modern day Zimbabwe. The capital was at Danamombe also known as Dhlo-Dhlo in Ndebele. The Rozwi chiefs revived the tradition of stone-building and constructed impressive cities. They traded with gold, copper and ivory for luxury goods. They also led rebellions against the Portuguese.
Of important note are the ruins of Dhlo-Dhlo, Nierkerk and Inyanga. I will tell you more when I have gone through a dozen or so books on the history of Africa.

Image sourced from here.

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4 thoughts on “Zimbabwe

  1. hari says:

    nice to know the ‘dark continent’ does have a history. the campaigns to let its past known will some day be known to the whole wide world. what is more, it’s starting with Zimbabwe.

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