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Notes on the Geography of Zimbabwe: Great Zimbabwe: Photo 25

world pictures Zimbabwe: Great Zimbabwe

Here's the zoomed view over to the Elliptical Building or Great Enclosure, where we're headed. Since we're up at the top of the mountain, however, we may as well eavesdrop on some interesting conversations.

Joost Fontein in the year 2000 is interviewing Aiden Nemanwa of the local Nemanwa clan. The conversation runs like this, in part:

What are your earliest memories of Great Zimbabwe?

It used to have a voice.

What kind of voice?

There were the voices of people. They sounded like people talking to each other. Also these voices used to talk to visitors that came there.

When did the voices stop?

They finished with the coming of the white man. There used to be long back, some other white people that came to trade, Indians and others, but the voices only stopped when the white colonisers came.

Nemanwa also told Fontein (p.82): "The new education and wisdom have brought strange ways and learning. The ancestors are not fools. So they said, you have brought your ways and new wisdoms. The new education came, wanting to dig into holy places, searching for the voices of our ancestors which spoke from the caves... All they saw and envied they took away. That brought the anger of our ancestors.... The soil is sick now. The earth cannot smile at us."

"After independence," and we're still with Aiden Nemanwa talking to Fontein (p. 164), "people are not yet independent, they are still following the ways of the white people. When Great Zimbabwe is again ruled by the traditional custodians, then there will be independence."

Another informant, Ambuya vaZarira, explained the silence of the spirits this way in conversation with Fontein (p. 103): "It's because they [the site managers both today and in the colonial past] refuse to respect the mountain, to make it important. They have put a wire around the ruins, they have put electricity there. They put a wire fence around the place and a wire to us means you are claiming that as your place."

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