July 22, 2011
After weeks of weeding through surveys and doing data entry and analysis, I had been looking forward to finally travelling in Zimbabwe. My last weekend here me, Patrick and Danielle (another IRD intern) went to Great Zimbabwe, which is a UNESCO world heritage site and it’s known for being the largest best preserved stone wall city in Southern Africa.
One of IRD’s country staff Mr. Charles Ncube’s family stays in Masvingo City which is near Great Zimbabwe, and he generously offered to drive us down to Masvingo which is south east of Harare and put us up at his home for the weekend as well. After driving for about 4 hours we finally got to Masvingo which is really a quaint little city with one main highway that goes straight through the city. We were warmly welcomed into Charles’s home by his wife and children, who were all impeccably dressed and patiently waiting for Charles to come home so that they could go to church.
Early Saturday morning we went to Great Zimbabwe where we met our guide who showed us all around the magnificent city for a whopping 3 hours. We started by climbing up to the Hill complex where the King and his immediate family lived. The views from the hill were absolutely stunning and then we ventured down to Great Enclosure which featured the main wall that was 36 feet high. There we watched a traditional shone dance. Most of the people we come across said that once you see Great Zimbabwe you have seen Zimbabwe. At first I doubted that statement, but once we got there and heard the history of the place it become apparent that Great Zimbabwe really influenced present day Zimbabwe, even the country’s name was taken from the site.
After visiting Great Zimbabwe we went to Lake Mutirikwe which was formed in 1960 to provide irrigation water to farmlands in the region, the scenery itself was quite beautiful and peaceful and we spent a few hours just taking in the views with Charles’ children. On Sunday I probably had the most memorable day of the whole weekend. It began early at 8:30am, I went to mass and, to my surprise, they were having a wedding or renewal of vows where the bride who was 78 yrs old was dressed in a full white gown and veil and made an entrance into the church compound accompanied by a whole troupe of singing church ladies and lots of flower girls. Her husband, to my delight, also got baptized. At 80 years old he repented and wanted to join the church– obviously there is no age limit when it comes to letting God in your life. The whole mass was so enjoyable because it was obvious everyone in the congregation was hysterical, a premature kiss between the couple resulted in the whole crowd erupting in joyous laughter. I have never been so entertained in mass. After mass we then went to a National Park to see the wild animal and after driving around for about 3 hours we finally saw 2 white rhinos that had stopped right in the middle of the road but quickly ran off when we approached them. We finished Sunday off by having a braai (barbeque) with Charles’s family and a quiet evening talking about everything we did the whole weekend, his wife is probably one of the most kind hearted women I have ever met, the hospitality we received from her was incredibly sweet and made the whole trip worthwhile.
Back in Harare, it was back to business. Patrick and I had about 5 days to finish all the necessary data analysis and write up a final report, which sounds pretty simple but we had quite a few bumps down the road and we probably spent a lot more time trying to clean the database than we expected. On Thursday evening we hosted a going away party for me and Patrick. It was so great to see people say such wonderful things about us and wish us well. The feelings were mutual on my side as I will be forever grateful to everyone at IRD Zimbabwe—Willard, the driver, who taught me a Shona word everyday , Ziggy, a mobilization officer for PROOF, who warmly greeted me everyday and even gave me a lift to church a few times, Tinashe, Kuda and Theresa who were always there to listen whenever I was having a bad day, though there were very few of those to begin with, and most importantly Themos, the country director, who offered up invaluable advice and guidance. I will miss Zimbabwe dearly and hopefully I will come back soon.
To everyone who has followed my blog entries I am extremely grateful and I hope my experience has shown you what a great country Zimbabwe is.