Unpacking Buhera’s tourism allures (Part One)

29 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
Unpacking Buhera’s tourism allures (Part One) Ruti Dam, one of Buhera's tourist attractions

The ManicaPost

 

Liberty Dube
Post Correspondent

BUHERA is little known for its tourism attractions.

The district is more famous for its aridity than its tourism allures.

 

It is a largely communal district, whose inhabitants’ livelihood is predicated on subsistence farming and livestock production.

However, the district is endowed with an avalanche of tourism mystiques, among them two major water bodies – Marovanyati and Ruti dams.

The two man-made attractions add to the district’s basket of tourism cenotaphs of history and culture such as Dzapasi and Matendera national monuments.

Ruti Dam

Ruti Dam is on Nyazvidzi River, approximately 80km from the confluence with the mighty Save River, about 57km south east of Buhera and about 5km south east of Matendera National Monument.

It consists of a conventional zoned embankment with a fairly thick impervious core.

 

Ruti Dam is characterised by a large catchment area (2485km2), which ensures a large volume of inflow in relation to the reservoir volume.

As a result, the dam has been over-spilling almost every year since its completion in 1976.

 

Ruti Dam’s spillway sills have a combined length of 693m.

The dam was constructed in 1976 to service irrigation schemes in Middle Sabi and Chisumbanje, especially during the dry period.

 

There has not been any productive usage of the water by the Bangure community besides illegal fishing activities which at times turned fatal as people and livestock fall victims to crocodile attacks.

Recreational activities

There is an opportunity to develop recreational facilities and activities around Ruti Dam like a canoe or boating ventures that will be run in partnership with the local community.

 

This can be done through private investment or by the local authority.

 

The boating service for visiting tourists will potentially usher in employment opportunities for some locals.

Nature Reserve

Adjacent to the dam is a kopje which can be turned into a nature reserve which will see the introduction of small antelopes such as duikers, elands and gazelle.

 

This can also include the movement of problem hyenas within certain communities in the district where there have been numerous reports of human-wildlife conflicts.

These problem animals are a threat to human life and livestock. This will be done under the instruction of ZimParks.

Matendera National Monument

Matendera National Monument is situated approximately 50km south east of Murambinda and the ruins are constructed on top of a dome shaped granite outcrop.

The structures are constructed in the Great Zimbabwe tradition architectural styles that include dressed stone walls, herringbone and dentelle decorations, and monoliths.

Culture hut

Between 2002 and 2003, Buhera Rural District Council constructed a craft shop or culture hut at the bottom of Matendera Hill.

 

In its condition, the culture hut can be used to display and sell cultural objects on behalf of the community to tourists. There are shelves on the walls of the hut which can be used as display spaces.

The building was repaired in 2011.

However, there is need to put three tables which can also be used to display the wares.

 

Some additional requirements to the existing structure will include the installation of a door and window screens.

Blair toilets

There is a male and a female toilet at the site and these can at least enable an early kick-start to the project.

 

In the long term, a complete ablution block with washing rooms will be necessary to cater for more visitors.

Borehole

The borehole at Matendera is not working, and thus there is an urgent need to repair it.

 

The existing borehole usually gets dry during the rainy season; another solar powered borehole will therefore need to be sunk to ensure constant water supply.

 

The constant availability of water to visitors will require the installation of two water tanks and a tapped water.

Big open space

The existing open space will be used during outdoor cultural activities.

 

The mounting of a display shed will provide additional space for the community to showcase their various cultural wares to visiting tourists.

 

Concrete tables and sitting areas are also necessary to provide sitting, feeding and resting places.

Surrounding villages

Standing on top of the low lying extensive dome shaped dwala on which the monument is situated, visitors are also presented with a picturesque view of the surrounding villages.

 

The villages with their traditional architecture and culture could be important resources for cultural tourism at Matendera.

This forms the basis of their cultural capital for the community-based tourism project.

 

Arrangements with willing local villagers could see tourists engaging in cultural tours of the surrounding villages.

 

The road that links Matendera from the main Murambinda – Birchenough Bridge Road, though accessible is a rugged and needs to be upgraded to allow easy accessibility.

Buhera is also home to Dzapasi, a historical cenotaph which is an important liberation heritage site.

 

It was the largest assembly point for liberation fighters established during the ceasefire in 1979. The place holds a rich history.

It was at Dzapasi that the late ZANLA Commander, Cde Rex Nhongo, later known as Solomon Mujuru and the Rhodesian Army Commander, Bertie Barnard ceremoniously shook hands as the British Union Jack was lowered and the Zimbabwean flag being hoisted in February 1980 to signal the beginning of a new dispensation in Zimbabwe’s politics.

 

This was one of the first ceremonies heralding the birth of an independent Zimbabwe, and signaling the death of Rhodesian military machinery.

 

Thus, the military supremacy of Ian Smith’s army was formally and finally relinquished at Dzapasi.

 

National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe’s eastern region acting director, Mr Lloyd Makonya said a structured fishing project run by the community remains a possibility.

“The fishery project to be run by the local community with the hope to sell the fish to visiting tourists and locals. This can also be an opportunity for the community to showcase their culinary skills in providing traditional recipes of the locally produced fish. The community management of the project can be centred on an organizational structure like a co-operative for local fishermen with exclusive rights to fish on a certain portion of the dam.

“Villagers around Ruti and Matendera can offer accommodation services to tourists who may need to have an experience of their way of living. For this to be successful, communities have to be given knowledge by entities such as the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority on the expectations to be met without compromising their traditional way of living,” he said.

Mr Makonya said tourism in Buhera has not been fully explored, with more prominent areas like Nyanga, Vumba and Chimanimani better known as acclaimed destinations in the Eastern Highlands.

“Buhera is not devoid of tourist attractions. It boasts of cultural sites like Gombe Ruins, Tohwechipi grave, the Zimbabwe type cluster of monuments, Kagumbudzi, Chiwona, Muchuchu and Matendera and the engineering ingenious, Birchenough Bridge,” he said.

 

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