‘The Many Splendours of Zimbabwe’ was one of the last features I expected to write this year. It’s up there with ‘The Beautiful Beaches of Burma’, or ’24 Hours in Pyongyang’.
But soon after I arrived in Harare I could see there was more to it than the current troubles allow.
Perhaps more than anywhere else, Zimbabwe tells the story of Africa, from prehistoric bushmen to the present day.
Yes, there is good wildlife viewing, but the same can be said for much of the continent. In Zimbabwe, you can see evidence of the earliest human life. At Matopos National Park, there are more prehistoric cave paintings than anywhere else on Earth. Cecil John Rhodes’s grave is here too.
The monument provides a timely reminder of Britain’s role in colonising Africa. I asked a black Zimbabwean at the grave what he thought of it all. A wry smile. “It’s part of our history,” he replied.
The National Heroes Acre Shrine in Harare is as much a part of that history too. This peculiar monument is a reminder of a time when Mugabe was a liberation hero, not a bankrupt despot.
In a surreal twist, the design is based on two AK-47 rifles – from the curve of the carbine to the bullets and the bayonet. But Zimbabwe needs more than firepower to save it now.
The travel industry may hold the key.
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