Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chirorodziva: Forgotten sleeping giant

This article appeared in the herald newspaper this morning:

ON the outskirts of the City of Chinhoyi lies a huge sacred pool, whose silence is like that of the innards of a grave.The silence as one descends into the intricate network of caves is both eerie and profound, yet the grottos and the huge sleeping pool form a spectacular combination in which reality defies existing tourism hyperbole diction.It is a geomorphological spectre whose grandeur Zimbabwe has failed to market for international tourism recognition. The caves are grossly under marketed that they have largely remained an untapped tourist attraction.When climbing down the steep granite steps it is easy for tourists to imagine approaching an abyss of darkness as light suddenly varnishes. The experience is hair-raising.The caves are a limestone shaft linked by a maze of passages and caves, at the foot of which lies a huge pool whose limpid and translucent gothic water maintains the same level 24/7.Inexplicably, the water defies common meteorological logic by remaining at the same temperature of 22 degrees Celsius 24/7 — every second, every minute, every hour and indeed every day.It is this deep blue pool beneath the sparkling cobalt stone that is known as the "Sleeping Pool.’’Myth and mystery has it that one cannot successfully throw a stone across the seemingly small pool as the sacred spirits that watch over the pool will catch the stone and bestow a curse upon the stone thrower.Oral tradition has it that at the bottom of Sleeping Pool lies immured, the bones of fallen Shona tribe heroes who died after being flung in by Nguni tribe raiders in pre-colonial Zimbabwe.The story is that it was in this pool that Nguni raiders flung their victims of battle to "sleep to eternity" when they fought notorious Shona outlaw Nyamakwere, in pre-colonial Zimbabwe.Prior to the incident Nyamakwere is said to have used the caves as his stronghold from which he killed his victims and threw them in.Nyamkwere was eventually overthrown by Chief Chinhoyi of the NeMakonde dynasty, hence the name of the city Chinhoyi.The Nemakonde (bastardised to Lomagundi by white colonial settlers), who resided in the area and often fell victim to Nguni raiders know the pool less euphemistically as Chirorodziva, the pool of the fallen heroes.Ironically, it is a spitting distance from the caves that the Battle of Chinhoyi- the fierce maiden gun battle between the black nationalists and white Rhodesian settlers marked the beginning of Zimbabwe’s protracted liberation struggle.The caves situated 8 kilometres from the city along the Highway to Kariba and Chirundu are a fascinating geological splendour.The main feature is the limestone cavern formed thousands of years back when the ground collapsed into a sinkhole.The Sleeping Pool is believed to be 172 metres deep with the drivers who have explored deepest, the United States Navy divers have only managed to go as far as 135 metre down.About 58 metres down the pool, there is another tunnel and a third tunnel lower, is yet to be explored.Several underwater passages lead from the Sleeping Pool and explorers have always found their way back to the pool.Its deep clear blue colour makes the poor almost impossible to the photograph successfully. The colour is not a reflection of the sky because it is the same deep blue colour on a cloudy day and at night. Another reason is that the portion of the pool visible from the Dark Cave is situated far from the sinkholes, yet it exhibits the same colour.The pool is blue for the same reason the sky is blue-scattering of light — and this is why it is blue throughout, whether is shade, sun or deep underground.Scientifically, this effect can only be achieved if the water is clear and this can be proved by visitors when they want to find the real surface.The rocks seen under the water are not reflection, as the eye might be fooled to see, but are real rocks underwater. The other fascination is the Dark Cave, which is artificially lit.Climbing in and out of the Dark cave is energy demanding. It is not for the week-kneed.More often that not many people come out of the cave panting, like fish put of the water.A good one-hour is enough for to explore Chinhoyi Caves, with one’s friends or family.Outside the caves is dense vegetation whose lasting beauty is spiced with melodious songs from an assortment of birds.The National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has a picnic ground and camping site next to the caves, where you can enjoy a meal or braai for a modest charge oat Chinhoyi Caves Motel.Today, as tourists visit, the caves are still revered by the local people for being he custodians of their ancestral spirits.With proper marketing, combined national effort and international exposure Zimbabwe could realise serious tourism benefits from the sleeping giant. This is nothing nearer to his in Zimbabwe so the outstanding geological feature is what the Gods have bestowed upon Zimbabwe.lFeedback: isadore.guvamombe@zimpapers.co.zw

15 comments:

  1. This is Zimbabwe's heritage and using it as a tourist attraction is prepostrous. So let the sleeping giant lie. It's high time the government respected and revered the sanctity of these sacred places, not to be entered by undeserving people, ie those that are not of the same ancestry.

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  2. I am sick and tired of those who come to descrate our land in the name of tourism and archaelogy. The ancestors are enraged. Zimbabweans, stop making money from this monstrous act.

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  3. haven't you people ever heard of tourism??? Zim needs the money

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  4. Typical! Woe to whoever invented money. In an ideal setup Zim and Africa don't need the West and their so-called tourism! It is the West that needs Africa, but unfortunately Africans have lost touch with their own Spirituality and beliefs. This disaster in Africa will only end when Africa goes back to it's own Spirituality. Hotep!

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  5. OOOOHHHH WELL,i`m zimbabwean and i went to Chinhoyi caves 2011.It was a superb time there and i think the rest of the world should be welcome to see these awesome caves.I saw tourists there and they respected the place,its not just about making money but also to show the beauty of our country,like other countries do.So save some money people,go travel,see other places and u will appriciate your own country :)

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  6. you are onviously christian. so wouldn't unerstand what am on about.hotep!

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  7. Wow... I fail to understand why anybody would not want to show off our heritage to the world.

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  8. thats a great thing some of zimbaweans want to live the 12th century its time to show the world we have something better here imagine wen the whole world know abt the caves some of you you will be the very first people to bost abt it i hv been to different nations and other countries look at china every one knows it why that mentality of culture in the cge should stop lack of knowledge may be they are even richies in that cave that u dont know wait and see tourism is the best source of income for different countries .i am proud some divers from america even came to explore that place .....no other nation has the same thing like that so we should be proud abt zimbabwe and being zimbabwean .this is not a religion issue otherwise we should be putting on nhembe if u say so lets rise and shine as anation united we stand .

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  9. I am Writing a book on the Chinhoyi Caves. If anyone has stories, information or the History of the caves please help. you can email me at tatdre@rocketmail.com

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  10. Being chriastion or not has nothing to do with showing off our God given heritage. We are Zimbabweans with a beautiful country which is waitng for the whole world to view. Lets let our heritage bring our economy up as a tourists are facinated by rare unique beauty. Its working for other countries why not for us as well?

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  11. zvinotsamwisa vadzimu izvozvo zvekungouyisa vanhu verimwe rudzi, if we allow those so called tourists, they gona turn that place into an artificial thing as it is in their countries, we want chinhoyi caves to remain as it is.

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  12. RIDICULOUS!!!! you could almost think some human being or some ancestor made the caves!!!!! the caves were made by God and God alone for every human being on the planet to enjoy. Nature is not for a people or tribe or nation regardless of where it is found. It is for the glory of God to shine through. So lets stop with the segregation nonsense and begin to see each other as human beings. We own nothing and I bet we are all siiting behind a computer in western made clothing. Ironic!!!

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  13. If th world thought this way we would know nothing of pyramids or the aztecs. Next thing education shall be deemed evil. Google the word tourism and desist from ignorance before you pull us back to the Stone Age!!

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  14. ryt a badmington inna mi say zim shudda keep ts beauty fo ts self n not for e tourists inna mi sae greetings to all of u in the name of Jah

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