London Is Expensive! British Museum and Egypt Exploration Society

Written on June 13, 2008, at Eat and Two Veg Restaurant, London, United Kingdom

I reluctantly left Sacrilege in San Francisco and boarded the plane to London via Washington, DC, on June 9, leaving late in the evening and arriving late the following evening.

Sarah, my friend from Zimbabwe, is working in London and kindly prevailed on her housemates to permit me to crash at their place for a couple of nights. One of her housemates, Caroline, is a schoolteacher and I didn’t meet the other housemate, who is apparently from Malaysia and was traveling in Amsterdam.

Sarah lives in a greenish northern suburb of London which is at least a half hour on the metro, or “tube? as they call it here, from central London. The tube ride costs £2 (~US$4) if you pay in cash, or only 90 pence if you use the Oyster card, a kind of metro debit card.

On my first excursion into town, I went to the Petrie Museum for Egyptian Archaeology. I arrived at 11:00 and left around 16:00 after examing ten artifacts up close and personal and many more exhibited in the public collection.

Next, I searched around for a hotel where I could spend Friday and Saturday night. The cheapest room I could find in the Kings Cross area with a bathroom “en suite?, i.e. in the room, not shared, was £45 (~US$90)! The place is called the European Hotel and the expensive room was in the basement, small, and perhaps a bit moldy.

I made it back to Sarah and Caroline’s place before either of them got back home, so I waited on the stoop until Caroline got home before Sarah did.

That evening, Sarah and I ate pizza with Caroline, then Sarah invited me to meet some childhood friends with whom she is still close. They even live in the same neighborhood in London. We went first to a typical English pub where I tried a draft ½ pint of ale. Everyone else drank at least twice as much as I. We met Antony at the pub, then went on to his cute little house and sat in the back garden with Antony’s brother Bobby, who I had met in Zimbabwe on an outing with Sarah to majestic Matopas, along with a girlfriend of theirs also named Sarah, who lived for awhile in Australia.

Antony is a great conversationalist, his banter littered with curses and his stories and political arguments quite entertaining. We drank and drank and drank, then Sarah and I walked home, so waking for our work the next day wouldn’t be too painful.

Next day, we walked again to the tube and she went to work, I to the British Museum. I got some good pictures of 25th dynasty Egyptian artifacts in Gallery 4.

Limestone Stela of Prince Meryre, Athribis, 25th Dynasty, British Museum, London, England Red Breccia Figure of Tawaret or Tuaret, Late Period, Egyptian Gallery 4, British Museum, London, England Shabaka or Shabako Stone, 25th Dynasty, Memphis, in British Museum, London, England

Kneeling Statue of Montuemhat, 25th or 26th Dynasty, Thebes, in British Museum, London, England Basin of Montuemhat, 25th or 26th Dynasty, Possibly Thebes, British Museum, London, England Granite Statue of Amun as Ram With Taharqa, 25th Dynasty, Kawa, in British Museum, London, England

I’ll go back there tomorrow (Saturday) to do more. I had an 11:00 meeting scheduled with Chris Naunton, Deputy Director of the Egypt Exploration Society. Their office is located on Doughty Mews, a cute little cobblestoned street with comfy old brick buildings. The library there had lots of resources to help me with my research, but best of all was the chance to chat with Chris, who has been researching 25th dynasty non-royal officials for at least eight years. Although he was delayed by an emergency meeting due to leadership change within the organization, and although he was obviously dealing with considerable stress over it, he made time to hang out and chat with me and provided a bunch of helpful materials.

I was scheduled to meet Sarah at 18:15 at Charing Cross station, so I managed to go to the Kings Cross station to purchase my round-trip train ticket to Cambridge for the following day, Friday.

I took the tube to Charing Cross to meet Sarah. While I waited, I ate a veggie pasty from a place in the station. Then, I took Sarah out to dinner at an Italian restaurant near the station.

After that, she invited me to a South African bar, where her friend Jeremy had invited a group of Zimbabwean and other friends since he was passing through town on this travels with his girlfriend and hadn’t sen many of his friends, now in London, for some years. It was all about drinking a lot of beer or cider, but surprisingly, people chatted a lot as well. We also tried Amarula Cream, a liqueur from a South African fruit that tasted like Bailey’s. Then Sarah and I left – I was really tired. I nodded off a bit on the tube and struggled to walk the rest of the way back to her place.

Great Zimbabwe: Largest Sub-Saharian Pre-Colonial Structure

After relaxing for a day at the Ancient City Lodge, I went to visit the Great Zimbabwe Monument site. I had reserved in advance an archaeologist as a guide.

OVERVIEW:

Hill Enclosure
Valley Enclosures
Great Enclosure
Museum
References

HILL ENCLOSURE:

Arriving at the Hill Enclosure, one passes through what was probably an ancient guard station

Climb uphill passing through narrow passages between boulders where defenders could have thrown boulders onto invaders to prevent entry and protect city

At summit, enter past double walls into a clearing where the king’s huts were built (one on top of another over time, possibly demolished as each king died, with new hut built on remains of the old, ending up with the stratified layers several meters deep excavated by archaeologists)

King’s platform short climb above the clearing. Thought to be the chikuva of the Hill Enclosure. A chikuva is traditionally a part of the kitchen far from the entrance where people pray to spirits for protection or good fortune. When a person dies, their relatives lay their body overnight in the chikuva before burial.

One of the famous Great Zimbabwe birds was found in the chikuva, representing what is probably an eagle of as yet unknown species.

Next comes what was probably the homesteads of the king’s closest and most prestigious advisors.

The Recessed Enclosure, named after the recesses in its far wall, is thought to have been the home of the spirit mediums.

A short walk on a downhill path brings you to the Cave where ore was likely stored and where the spiritual leadership likely prepared for rituals. Also, the cave acts as a natural megaphone for communicating messages to the Valley Enclosures and Great Enclosure far below.

Walking uphill along another nearby path, one reaches the Furnace Enclosure used for ore smelting, including iron and possibly gold work.

A bit further uphill is the Ritual Enclosure or Sacred Enclosure. Six birds were found there, then stolen in the late 19th century by a European archaeologist.

Many of the birds have toes that look like human toes.

There were at least two platforms within the Ritual Enclosure, one on each side. Probably two of the birds rested on each platform, facing inwards toward the people sitting around the edge at the rear (downhill side of the enclosure). The king’s advisers and the diviners likely sat on platforms arranged upward on the hill. The king likely presided over the rituals seated on top of a large boulder well above everyone else, a small wall seen on the left side when facing him, probably accompanied by guards.

The ritual likely consisted of drinking beer, chanting, clapping, and dancing until sweaty, which produced states of possession by the spirits.

According to Matenga, three cows were sacrificed: one for the crowd, a second for the spirits, and a third carcass taken to the jungle for the spirit lions. If the carcass was found eaten the next day, it meant the spirits were pleased; otherwise, additional measures might have to be taken to appease the spirits.

Sometimes the purpose of the ritual was to dance for rain.

King’s lineage passed from older to younger brother starting with first wife, then second wife, etc. King usually had over 200 wives living in Valley Enclosures. Continued on to sons if all brothers had served as King.

VALLEY ENCLOSURES:

Thought to be where the king’s wives lived in about 50 households with two to three wives per household.

Judicial court for commoners in one field with appeal only rarely to “supreme court? of King’s council.

Also the location of an enclosure where imported treasures were found, called the Royal Treasury.

GREAT ENCLOSURE:

Theories:

First wife of king may have lived there
Maybe a school of initiation and ethics there
Evidence includes phallic objects found there and a decorated beam with crocodile and other symbols
Children’s play area near front entrance(s)?
OR perhaps the (last?) king shifted residence from the Hill Enclosure to the Great Enclosure

The enclosure has the shape of a womb

The outer and most recent wall of the Great Enclosure curves around like a python biting its tail with the earliest construction at the lower end of the tail and later construction toward the head, including the layer of chevron decoration over the newer part of the outer wall.

MUSEUM:

Power was out at the museum, but luckily I had brought a torch. No pictures allowed. :-(

Exhibits as far as I remember included:

History of Great Zimbabwe
Models of Enclosures
Crops: sorghum, millet, and one other
Tools: adze, spears, etc.
The Zimbabwe Birds (the piece de resistance!)
The Forge
Cotton and Textiles – Weaving
Trans-Continental Trade
Zoomorphic stool (said to walk around to fetch water on command of magician)

REFERENCES:

Provided by guide:

Hall, Martin. Farming Communities.

Hoffman, Thomas. Snakes and Crocodiles.

Hoffman, Thomas. Symbols of a Nation: Unveiling the Mysteries of Great Zimbabwe.

Matenga, Edward. Bird book (which I purchased there)

Garlake, Peter. Many books.

Mudhenge, Stan. Political History of Munhumutapa.

Pikirai, Innocent. The Archaeology of the Mutapa Empire.

Thanks to Senior Tour Guide Francis Muchemwa, Great Zimbabwe World Heritage Site, P.O. Box 1000, Masvingo, Zimbabwe, tel. +263 039 265084 or 262080, mobile 011 760824, email francismuchemwa@yahoo.com (send copy of book)

Zooming All the Way to Great Zimbabwe and the Ancient City Lodge

I took the bus from Harare to Masvingo.

Landscape and Cone-on-Cylinder Buildings Between Harare and Masvingo, Zimbabwe Landscape and Cone-on-Cylinder Buildings Between Harare and Masvingo, Zimbabwe Landscape and Cone-on-Cylinder Buildings Between Harare and Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Landscape and Cloudy Sky Between Harare and Masvingo, Zimbabwe Landscape and Cloudy Sky Between Harare and Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Then, on January 20, 2008, I made it to the Great Zimbabwe Monument, outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe, by paying off a local gas station owner who was willing to undercut the price offered to me by unscrupulous taxi operators in town.

I stayed at the stunning Ancient City Lodge, which is itself a recreation of the grounds of ancient Great Zimbabwe. The hotel is one of the best hotels where I’ve stayed anywhere in the world and certainly an amazing find in Zimbabwe. Tip: the price in South African rand was much more reasonable than the US dollar price for some unknown reason.

Bedroom of My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Bedroom of My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Bedroom of My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Front Entrance of My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Bedroom of My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Bedroom of My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Bathroom of My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Towel Rack in Bathroom of My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Bathtub in Bathroom of My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Shelves in My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Bedroom of My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Bedroom of My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Walled Garden of My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey and Baby in Garden Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey and Baby in Garden Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Monkey and Baby in Garden Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey in Tree Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey Opening Fruit in Garden Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Monkey Eating Fruit in Garden Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey on Garden Wall Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey on Garden Wall Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Monkey Eating Fruit in Garden Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Impala in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey Climbing Tree in Garden Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Body of Impala Grazing in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey Climbing Tree in Garden Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Impala Grazing in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Horny Impala Grazing in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Impala in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Impala in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Impala in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Impala in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey Crossing Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Monkey Outside Window of My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkeys in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Impalas Butting Heads in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Impala in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Impala in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Impala Showing Off Balls in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Impalas Grazing in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Impala in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Impala in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Impala Grazing in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Impala in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Impala in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Impala in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey Reaching for Something in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkeys in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Monkeys in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkeys in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkeys in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Monkeys in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkeys in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Baby Monkey in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey Jumping From Tree in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey Climbing Tree in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Monkey Perched in Tree in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkeys in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey Munching on Flower in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Monkey in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Monkey in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Monkey in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Monkey in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Monkey in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey Climbing Tree Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey Perched in Tree Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Monkey Perched in Tree Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey Perched in Tree Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Monkey Holding Baby Monkey on Wall Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Impala in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Impala in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Impala in Meadow Outside My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Reception Desk at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Photograph of President Mugabe Behind Reception Desk at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Floor Mosaic Probably of Crocodile or Lizard, Reception at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Landscaping at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Landscaping at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Swimming Pool at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

View From Swimming Pool Area at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe View From Swimming Pool Area at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Patio Near Swimming Pool at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Patio Near Swimming Pool at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Replicas of Great Zimbabwe Birds at the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Grounds of the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Grounds of the Ancient City Lodge, Great Zimbabwe, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe Sculpture of Great Zimbabwe Bird Outside the Enclosure Around My Suite at the Ancient City Lodge, Outside Masvingo, Zimbabwe

After resting for a day, I made my way to the monument the following day as chronicled in the following blog entry.

Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences in Harare

My arrival in Harare came with fears about how 8000% monthly inflation, food shortages, and a repressive dictator who hates gay people would influence my stay and feelings about Zimbabwe and its people.

I was a bit bewildered on arrival at the airport since I didn’t want to change money at the official rate, which was far below the black market rate. Yet I didn’t know who I could trust to change money on the black market without getting arrested or cheated or whatever.

Luckily, I met Sarah, a wonderful person who helped me figure out how to adapt to life in Zimbabwe right there at the airport. She was asking around about the current exchange rate and helped me meet a Zimbabwe local who gave me a free ride along with my bags in the back of a pickup truck to meet my friend Richard in the parking lot of a well-known hotel.

Richard put me up at his place for the day and night and showed me around town a bit. I saw the grocery stores full of food in Harare, although with prices rapidly becoming unaffordable for people whose salaries weren’t pegged to foreign currencies. He took me to an excellent Chinese restaurant with an interesting twist to the menu… each dish had a price code listed by it and the list of prices corresponding to the codes appeared on the last page of the menu, so it could be updated on a regular, even daily, basis. When it came time to pay, Richard pulled out the bag he carries around everywhere and laid a pile of cash about six inches tall on the table.

The government announced the new 10,000,000 dollar note around the time I arrived in the country, to help with the problem of physically carrying around so much cash for even the simplest of transactions. In most places that do any regular business involving large amounts of cash, they have a cash counting machine, like the one pictured below.

Cash-Counting Machine, Bus Company, Bus Terminal Building, Harare, Zimbabwe I Become a Millionaire, Currency Inflation in Zimbabwe
As soon as I changed money, I became a multimillionaire!

Richard’s father was arriving that day to stay at his place so he helped me find a hotel room. Luckily, we found one that wasn’t horridly expensive as most of them are for foreigners paying a special hard-currency foreigner price in Harare. I stayed at the lovely Bronte Hotel.

Grounds of Bronte Hotel, Harare, Zimbabwe Restaurant at Bronte Hotel, Harare, Zimbabwe

I saw a placard announcing the groups meeting there at the hotel. One of the groups listed was GALZ, which I knew as Gay and Lesbian Zimbabweans. I was shocked to see them listed, since I thought the repression would be so great that they would have to meet in private homes, ever since Mugabe’s “gays are worse than dogs” statement. I had the privilege of popping in one of their meeting sessions to wish them well, letting them know that people all over the world have heard about their struggle and understand the difficult conditions under which they are operating with threats of violence, imprisonment, and death, not to mention public humiliation and loss of employment.

On January 18, 2008, I visited the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences, in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Machanga people

Oral tradition says origins in Hlengwe people who arrived before Soshongana, a Ngoni (Ngohi?) whose real name is Mamukese / Manukosi, son of Chiyangeni. Manukese fled Shaka during Mfecune period. Soshongana found the Hlengwe and established the Gaza state in early 19th century after defeating all tribes…

Machangana men pierced ears using knife, sign of bravery, skin loins, mayadha white cloth, mubodhi head ring, tnbaya(?) urinary chamber

Machangana women wear minceka, salempore (chibhelana / chibhabhela), seashells (mbambamba), leg bangles (madheya(?))

Zvitumbarse drums

Ranzala groundhornbill drum

Thumb piano

Initiation – instructor (mudzhabi)

Girls’ initiation = kombla

Boys’ initiation = mupundu(?)

Food processing: grind (kukanda) food using pestle (musi) and mortar (xthurhi), in chihizo for final processing

Ngula grainbin

Farming–

Crops: mvele (small grains), mashalani (sorghum), mahuva (millet)

Wooden hoes

Conservation of trees as shed for crops (minduti yemerele (or yemevele???))

Singing songs, political or even vulgar, only while pounding grain

Beer pots (mbita)

Head cushion (simbo)

Head rests (mukigeio)

Woven grain storage container

Chieftancy–

Nzalema power in chief’s stomach, vomited at death

Chosen from eldest son of first wife, if chief too young, nephew (tukulu, who is not in line for chieftancy) would hold the post (kuomela)

Chiefs had spear (thlari), elephant’s tusk (lumhondo lwendhlopfu), leopard’s skin, and headring (mubhodhi)

King buried in house seated facing east, elephant tusk buried with him, protruding a bit from grave

Hunting–

Shields from animal hides, arrows (mupatya), spear, and pit traps for big animals like elephants (hardwood poles with sharpened ends vertical in put, animal pierced during fall

Rituals–

Shona– possession by principal ancestors (masvikiro)

Machanga – possession at homestead level (mudzimu)

Traditional healers (N’anga) advise who to lead ritual to ask for rain before people ate produce from the fields

Madhlozi are possessed by spirits from another culture like Ndau (Maronge or Maconge?) or Ndebele

Rituals performed under Marula tree or in Ndumba house dedicated to ancesstors Inside house, white cloth, multi-colored cloth (palu), small multi-coolored clay pot (chikalaulo) and spears/gourd (ndeve)

Old women in menopause (vatsvah) brew the beer for rituals assisted by young pre-menstrual girls who carry water

Inyanga, early iron age from 300 – 1000 CE, pottery known as Ziwa

Late iron age, 1650-1800 CE, Hwisa settlements

GREAT ZIMBABWE:

Soapstones found at Great Zimbabwe, Dhlodio (Midlands), and Mutare Altar site
figural art, bowls with animal images, eight birds on pillars

Stone building tradition from about 1100-1600 CE

Arrows, spears, adze, hoe, plus imported Chinese celadon, glass beads

Iron gongs, gold grinder, grain bins

Millet, sorghum, and r??? (small grain millet?)

Cattle and goat herding: young cattle for the king’s compound, older for rest of population

Not so much hunting

Great Zimbabwe flourished 1250 – 1450 CE with smaller Zimbabwes all over the central plateau (approximately 300 of them extending even into Mozambique, Botswana, and South Africa)

King lived on the Hill Complex – wealth and power from control over subjects

Symbols of authority found: iron gongs, trade items

Zimbabwe Hill – enclosures

Imba Huru: pole and daga (mortar/cement) houses with enclorsure, three entrances

Khami ruins at Bulawayo are second largest after Great Zimbabwe

Others at places like Matendara, Dhlodhlo, and Naletale

All used decorative wall patterns: chevron, check, cord, dentelle, herriingbone, and alternate courses of granite (light) and schist (dark)

Shona concept of mutupo, link to ancestors

Mazimbabwe – plural usage for other zimbabwes around the country

References found at Museum Library:

Garlake, Peter. Life at Great Zimbabwe. Gweru, Zimbabwe: Mambo Press, 1982, reprinted 1991. {Exploring Zimbabwe Series #1}

Garlake, Peter. Early Zimbabwe: From the Matopos to Inyanga. Gweru, Zimbabwe: Mambo Press, 1983. {Exploring Zimbabwe Series #3}

Garlake, Peter S. Great Zimbabwe. London, United Kingdon?: Thames and Hudson, 1973.

Garlake, Peter. Great Zimbabwe: Described and Explained. Harare, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe Publishing House, Ltd., 1982.

National Museums and Monuments of Rhodesia. Map of the Zimbabwe Ruins. Publication location and date unknown, like pre-independence, i.e. before 1980.

R.N. Hall. Great Zimbabwe. London, United Kingdom: Methuen and Co., first published 1905.

Chauke, Chris. The Great Zimbabwe Monument Traveller’s Guide. Mosvingo, Zimbabwe: The National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe(?), publication date unknown.

Mantenga, Edward. The Soapstone Birds of Great Zimbabwe: Symbols of a Nation. Harare, Zimbabwe: African Publishing Group, 1998.

Robinson, K.R. Khami Ruins. Cambridge, United Kingdom: University Press, 1959.

Summers, Roger. Inyanga: Prehistoric Settlements in Southern Rhodesia. Cambridge, United Kingdom: University Press, 1958.

Gathercole, Peter, and Lowenthal, David (eds.). The Politics of the Past. London, United Kingdom: Unwin Hyman Ltd., 1990, updated 1994?, pp. 189-199 (West Africa article), and pp. 291-298 (Nigeria article)

Thanks to Naone Chiruka, Librarian, Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences, Box CY 33, Causeway, Harare Zimbabwe (send copy of my book to the library).

Bus Terminal, Harare, Zimbabwe
I left Harare by bus at the bus station pictured above.