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Open letter to Environment minister Mangaliso Ndlovu

BY BURZIL DUBE

Re: National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) not playing ball on tourism promotion

I hope this letter finds you well at a time when the entire country is on a crusade of trying to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, which has somehow brought the tourism industry to its proverbial knees.

It is my fervent hope that you will continue with your untiring efforts of trying to make Zimbabwe reclaim its proper prestigious place on the world’s tourism and hospitality map.

Yours Truly is personally aware that you are among ministers whose hands are always full with responsibilities and will try by all means to be very brief.

I recently came across a news article where your ministry, through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), is planning to roll out tourism conferences in all the country’s 10 provinces.

It is envisaged that this programme seeks to promote and market some of the provinces’ attraction places that have been overlooked in the past, even though they play a significant role in the tourism world.

It is my fervent hope that these particular regions are fully apprised of this noble initiative because I foresee some of them being caught flat-footed. As I am writing this letter, some are still at sea as far as this whole noble exercise is concerned.

Yours Truly is currently domiciled in the coal-mining town of Hwange in Matabeleland North province and there are very few, if any, who are in the loop on this tourism initiative.

Anyway, that is beside the point, but there are some places in Hwange district that are in dire need of marketing and most of them were religiously covered in previous articles in the travelling and touring column courtesy of Yours Truly.

Some of the features that come into mind include a hill in the Sinamatella area popularly known as “Katunhu ka Balozwi” and it is this knoll where the Nambya tribe tried to dig and “carry” it to Zambia during the turn of the pre-colonial period

They wanted to take the hill as a present to one of the Zambian kings in Barotseland. It was meant to be a royal throne.

However, that was not to be done as powers of nature prevailed against them and most of them were killed by falling boulders while others were seriously injured in the process.

Excavations signs are today still evident at the mountain peak and this can also be incorporated into these proposed tourism provincial indabas.

It is rather sad that even schools in Hwange district are not even aware of the existence of this piece of mountain which is certainly a candidate into the country’s history syllabus.

Honourable minister, there is also a similar hill in the coal-mining town of Hwange where there is a tomb belonging to one MacDonall, Anne, dubbed Hwange’s Lonely Grave.

It is another piece of a dormant tourism relic which is yet to be utilised.

This hill is just a stone’s throw away from the town centre.

The mystery surrounding this sole marble and limestone tomb is mainly centred on how pallbearers managed to climb such a steep and extremely slippery hill and be able to inter MacDonall’s remains.

According to the epitaph inscribed on the tombstone, she died on June 22, 1902 at the then Wankie Hospital aged 26 years.

Following publication of this spectacle thanks to Yours Truly’s travelling and touring column, interest in the place has been phenomenal.

Next time if you do manage to pass through Hwange just give me a shout and I will certainly accompany you to the place.

This particular hill also offers a panoramic view of the whole of Hwange town and its environs.

There are also plans to turn this hill into some form of  picnic site which I firmly believe could emulate the likes of Matopos Hills, situated a few kilometres on the outskirts of Bulawayo.

There is also the Kamandama Memorial Site where 427 miners perished in an underground explosion on June 6,  1972. The place is within the Hwange Colliery concession area and can certainly be a crowd puller but needs regular sprucing up by the powers-that-be.

There is also a state-of-the-art angling and boating club along the Zambezi River, which authorities surprisingly barred Yours Truly from writing anything concerning this interesting tourism spectacle.

On a parting note, I believe your ministry works closely with National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ).

Time is nigh for them to try and update their rather interactive but “outdated” website.

The other day I was sent on a wild goose chase trying to find the exact location of Lukosi Strip Road categorised as historical appeared on their NMMZ website. According to the website, it is situated in Hwange.

Yours Truly traversed most parts of Hwange district in search of the elusive strip road in trying to come up with a tourism article for my column.

It seemed all my questions sent to NMMZ fell on deaf ears as they did not bother to respond, let alone acknowledge.

I later discovered that Lukosi Strip Road’s monument status together with that of Pandamatenga were cancelled by government in 1986 following recommendation by NMMZ trustees.

The cancellation was done through General Notice 586 of 1986.

I am still of the opinion that once a monument is officially cancelled, it is also simultaneously expunged from the website and I stand to be corrected.

They must try to play ball if we are together in this hospitality revival crusade.

Currently I am working on a story I found on their website which states that Lobengula’s grave is situated in Hwange. Yours Truly is now at sixes and sevens on whether to pursue this interesting piece of historical tourism. To make matters worse, they (NMMZ) are yet to respond to my question on the exact location of the grave.

I sincerely hope and trust that you will share my concerns with your Home Affairs counterpart whose ministry is in charge of NMMZ.

Some of us really want to continue lifting the country’s tourism flag higher and also in the process complementing the Zimabwe Tourism Authority’s efforts of making Zimbabwe a World of Wonders.

I would have said much but, as I earlier alluded to that the letter would be brief, we will continue communicating outside this forum.

Together we will make the country’s tourism industry a force to reckon with.

Yours Truly

Burzil Dube

  • Comments always welcome on: dubebasill@gmail.com or Twitter@DubeBurzil

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