Celebrating cultural, hidden monuments in Manicaland

17 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Celebrating cultural, hidden monuments in Manicaland Mapembe Mountain is one of the major tourist attractions in Mutare District

The ManicaPost

 

Liberty Dube
Tourism Correspondent

 

IT is dominated by a vibrant, lush, fragrant topography that any visitor would love to frequent, while its majestic, agile, verdant and pristine nature reserves, hills and mountains have earned it the famous moniker, Kumakomoyo.

 

The fresh breeze and ethereal canopy trees and beautiful weather are some of the key attributes that make the earth beautiful.

 

Welcome to the Eastern Highlands!

 

As local museums join the rest of the world in commemorating International Museums Day tomorrow, The Manica Post Tourism focuses on some not-so-talked about, yet picturesque and culturally rich nature reserves, hills and mountains in the Eastern Highlands.

 

Each year since 1977, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) organises the International Museum Day, which represents a unique moment for the international museum community.

 

The objective of the day, among other things, is to raise awareness about the fact that museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among people.

 

On May 18 each year, museums around Zimbabwe organise activities which help conscientise the public about the significance of museums.

 

Last year, more than 37 000 museums in about 158 countries participated in the event.

 

Ziwa National Monument

 

Ziwa National Monument, situated in Nyanga, bears evidence of human occupation and activity for all major periods identified in Zimbabwe’s archaeological sequence.

 

The 3 333-hectares estate is comprised of stone age deposits, remnants of rock art and early farming communities’ settlements.

 

Upon visiting the site, one enjoys a picturesque view of the woods, distinct riverine vegetation, wild animal spoors and traditional methods of fish trapping as you listen to the various sweet bird melodies.

 

There is stone terracing, enclosures, hill forts, iron working furnaces, and numerous other relics of cultural importance and interest to the visitor.

 

Great quantities of highly decorated and finely made pottery, burned bone, shell beads and copper objects associated with early farmers’ occupation period have been recovered on the foot of Ziwa Mountain.

 

Ziwa is a site museum which acts as an interpretive centre of the archaeology of Ziwa and Nyanga in general as well as contemporary local cultures.

 

Mount Rukotso

 

Mt Rukotso (2 405m) is one of the northernmost peaks of Nyanga Mountains.

 

Together with Mount Chera, World’s View and the Terrace Towers, it is part of the spectacular escarpment overlooking Nyanga communal lands.

 

Although much of the lower slopes are used to grow seed potatoes, parts of the higher slopes and the areas around the summit are still in good shape and rich in montane grassland flora.

 

The main advantage of Mt Rukotso is its easy access.

 

A dirt track through the potato fields leads nearly to the summit and its conspicuous radio mast.

 

Trees are absent from the higher slopes, with the exception of a few stunted specimens, trying to survive in the shelter of large boulders.

 

The main botanical attractions are the great variety of flowering herbs which thrive in the rocky montane grasslands and the seasonal seepage bogs.

 

Gomo Remureza Mountain

 

Another spectacle of a mountain is Gomo Remureza also situated in Nyanga.

 

It is 2 170 metres high and stands as one of the prominent mountains in the Eastern Highlands.

 

By elevation, Gomo Remureza is seated on number six out of 366 mountains in the Eastern Highlands, number eight out of 4 515 mountains in Zimbabwe, number eight out of 768 mountains in Manicaland and number six out of 77 mountains in Nyanga.

 

Mapembe Mountain

 

The scene is 20km off the Mutare-Harare Highway.

 

The nature reserve falls partly in Nyagundi and Chikundu old resettlement areas in Ward 34 of Mutare Rural District.

 

At the mountain top are caves and rock shelters where rain-making ceremonies are held annually.

 

The nature reserve covers an area of 850 hectares and falls under Natural Region Three of the agro-ecological zones.

 

It consists of a strategically positioned granite dome rising to 1 500 meters above sea level.

 

Due to its height, one is able to see Birchenough Bridge which is about 120km away on a clear day.

 

About 75 percent of the nature reserve comprises granite, with 15 percent being woodlands and grasslands, while the remaining five percent are wetlands which are rich in aquatic life.

 

Mapembe is a rare nature reserve with unique environmental conditions from the rest of the surrounding area.

 

It harbours rare indigenous tree species and fauna, which sadly are now on the verge of extinction due to human interference.

 

Castle Beacon which sits at 1 911 metres is the highest peak of Bvumba Mountains

Castle Beacon which sits at 1 911 metres is the highest peak of Bvumba Mountains

 

The mountain is covered with indigenous trees that include musasa, teak, mukwa, mutondo and mupfuti as well as wild fruit trees.

 

Visitors can be enthralled by a variety of animals, birds and butterflies.

 

Some of the birds found there include the black eagle, rock kestrel, peregrine falcon, lanner falcon, marshal eagle, hornbills, meyer parrot and water fowl.

 

Animals that may be found include zebras, elands, kudus, bushbucks, duikers, monkeys and warthogs, among others.

 

In the 1990s, Odzi villagers agreed that Mapembe must be protected, not only because of its rare beauty, but also because of its historical and cultural significance.

 

A visit to the reserve is an unforgettable and a phenomenal experience.

 

To the superstitious and those who believe in legends, the visit can be petrifying, yet adventurous.

 

Imagine washing your hands in a stream located on the foot of the mountain before hiking so that you are cleansed from the “dirt” acquired from being intimate with your spouse the previous night.

 

Imagine sneaking into the nature reserve for a fishing expedition without the permission of the authorities and you catch a huge snake instead of fish.

 

These are some of the realities associated with a visit to the magnificent nature reserve which is now a culture village.

 

A culture village is an area that is set aside to portray the lifestyles, activities and artefacts of a particular culture, usually in the form of a living museum.

 

Mount Makomwe

 

Mount Makomwe Mountain in Marange is well-known for its sacredness, both as a burial place for Marange traditional leaders and a spiritual site for members of the United Methodist in Zimbabwe.

 

It is a historical location which contributes to an avalanche of antique sceneries in Manicaland, a province that is endowed with rich cultural resources.

 

It is almost an hour’s drive from Mutare to the site.

 

The site has an estimate terrain elevation above sea level of 1 258 metres.

 

By elevation, Mount Makomwe is seated on number 19 out of 152 in Mutare, while by prominence it is number 62 out of 4 515 in Zimbabwe.

 

The greater Mount Makomwe landscape has immense cultural value as it is adorned with ancient rock art burials and early burials from centuries ago.

 

The area is attributed to a missionary, Mr Eddy Greely, who was seconded there by Bishop Joseph Crane Hartzell, credited for founding Old Mutare Mission where Hartzell High School and Africa University are located.

 

The old church building near the apex of Mount Makomwe has a plaque dated 1908, proving it has been standing there for over a century.

 

The Mount Makomwe landscape is, however, under threat from human action, including deforestation, veld fires and uncontrolled access to the historic building.

 

There are also sacred burial places on the mountain.

 

Chinyasikana Mountain

 

Situated around Mutsago area in Marange, Bocha area.

 

The mountain has an elevation of 1 041 metres.

 

It is ideal for hiking, though so many myths and misconceptions are associated with the mountain.

 

Word about the disappearance of people and appearance of ghosts always do the rounds.

 

The most mythical story, among others is how a cave in the mountain once collapsed and buried alive children who were playing house.

 

Castle Beacon (Tyauru)

 

Bvumba Mountains form a part of the Eastern Highlands.

 

The highest peak of the mountains is Castle Beacon which sits at 1 911 metres.

 

The slopes leading towards the impressive granite dome contain good examples of montane evergreen forest.

 

The trees and boulders in the forest receive regular mists and rain throughout the year and the flora is rich in epiphytic and lithophytic ferns and flowering plants.

 

Some unusual species are common in these forests, such as Cryptostephanus vansonii (Amaryllidaceae) and Stolzia repens varobtusa (Orchidaceae), a tiny orchid, which is otherwise only known from Mt Mulanje in Malawi.

 

Another rare and endemic orchid, Aeranthes africana, was also found in this habitat, but it has unfortunately been wiped out by unscrupulous collectors.

 

Acting National Museums and Monuments Eastern Region director, Mr Lloyd Makonya said museums preserve and exhibit important cultural, artistic, historical or scientific artifacts as well as playing a critical role in maintaining and rehabilitating some scenic and monuments in the province.

 

“While these exhibits provide informative and visual explorations, there are many benefits to visiting these institutions. Simply put, museums help to teach, inspire and connect communities.

 

“Museums serve as dynamic educational hubs, fostering curiosity, creativity and critical thinking.

 

“Museums significantly contribute to research, providing a platform for exploration and the dissemination of new ideas. From art and history to science and technology, museums are vital spaces where education and research converge to shape an understanding of the world,” he said.

 

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