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Notes on the Geography of Zimbabwe: Great Zimbabwe: Photo 40

world pictures Zimbabwe: Great Zimbabwe

Think a Shona village survives on the site? These huts, with traditional crafts on display, were the idea of Lillian Hodges, director of national museums from 1959 to 1973. J. Desmond Clark says in a video interview with Timothy Troy that Hodges was a skilled amateur archaeologist who had worked with her husband. He had died suddenly, possibly poisoned by a disgruntled servant. She succeeded him as director of National Museums but eventually retired to running a bookshop in Masvingo. Clark recalled that until her death she lived there alone with a huge dog.

The "village" was originally located between the mountain and the Great Enclosure but was burned during the civil war. It was rebuilt on a new site in 1988 but closed in 1997 and reopened in 2002. The idea was to have potters and smiths and healers and musicians demonstrate their skills, but there are very few visitors and the "villagers" are actually employees of the museum, and could be--and have been--dismissed, as was a sculptor, Simon Nyanda, whose work apparently offended visitors. Fontein writes (p. 203) that "all the village performers and occupants are required to sign a contract with NMMZ, which enforces a strict code of conduct, allows only very limited leave, and only one day of notice in event of discharge."

Fontein, whose sympathies clearly lie with the villagers living in the vicinity, writes (p. 181) that the policy underlying management of Great Zimbabwe is "driven more by financial concerns and the needs of international heritage organisations than by the concerns of local communities."

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