So between being the perfect wedding guest and wanting to literally disappear, my hostess’ gave me a reprieve from the wedding festivities and took me to visit the World Heritage Site, Great Zimbabwe. This site was about twenty minutes away from Peter’s Lodge where the wedding and reception took place.
Great Zimbabwe is an immense site of ruins purported to be the capital of the Queen of Sheba and the site of Bantu/Shona civilization beginning in the 11th century (before the colonization of Africa). Here is the link to UNESCO website where you can read more about this site from a factual and historical point of view: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/364
It is truly a breath taking site to see and visit. I am so glad that I got the opportunity to see it during my whirlwind visit to Zimbabwe. The actual site is vast and comprised of many different areas to explore and visit. Because we (3 car loads of wedding participants in all) arrived mid-afternoon with sunset at shortly after 5:30 we focused our attention on roaming the ruins rather than inside in the museum. We made an interesting viewing party I am sure as we were all dressed for attending a wedding not visiting ancient ruins. But nobody could say that we weren’t willing and having a blast. In fact, it was rather nice that so many members of Chenai’s extended family chose to join me in visiting the site.
Members of our party were munching on apples as we were exiting our vehicles which made our welcoming party all the more welcoming. While the adults were laughing, unfortunately some of the younger members of our group were more than a little frightened as these monkeys were rather bold in their attempts to steal our apples.
We all agreed that we weren’t interested in attempting to climb this hill in order to see where the security forces of this civilization were posted so that they could watch for threats and protect the vast population that lived in this royal city.
Instead we continued along the path that would bring us to The Great Enclosure and Valley Ruins.
According to the UNESCO literature “The Valley Ruins are a series of living ensembles scattered throughout the valley which date to the 19th century. Each ensemble has similar characteristics: many constructions are in brick (huts, indoor flooring and benches, holders for recipients, basins, etc.) and dry stone masonry walls provide insulation for each ensemble. Resembling later developments of the Stone Age, the building work was carried out to a high standard of craftsmanship, incorporating an impressive display of chevron and chequered wall decorations.”
“The Great Enclosure, which has the form of an ellipsis, is located to the south of the hills and dates to the 14th century. It was built of cut granite blocks, laid in regular courses, and contains a series of daga-hut living quarters, a community area, and a narrow passage leading to a high conical tower. The bricks (daga) were made from a mixture of granitic sand and clay. Huts were built within the stone enclosure walls; inside each community area other walls mark off each family’s area, generally comprising a kitchen, two living huts and a court.”
We had been lured to exploring the Great Enclosure first as we had heard drums and singing as we walked. Of course, with that promise we just had to head straight there. Once we made it up the steep incline we were welcomed with a traditional performance and we were all encouraged to participate which we did. Everyone in our party danced, donned traditional clothing or head gear and actively participated in the dance of course.
The belt of tails that Chenai was wearing in this picture had originally started out on my waist because you guessed it, I was one of the first ones co-opted to join the dance. Yes, there is video but happily I don’t have a copy and it hasn’t emerged on Youtube yet!
Following our dance party in this ancient site we moved on to explore the rest of the ruins in our finery.
It was so incredible to visit this site and walk the land that was the site of such a vast and important civilization in the history of not only Zimbabwe but Africa. This site is unique in Africa and I felt so privileged to visit it. It is definitely worth a visit even when dressed for a wedding!