WELCOME TO Val's Alentejo -I write about my region of Alentejo. My art ,painting, my cottages, Family life, my animals -Travels And my love for Roses- and rural country life.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

"Forgotten city" part 1 of 3

I was about 11 , when I first visited  "Great Zimbabwe".   
 I remember being totally overwhelmed,  in awe of such a mystical ruin. 
    To walk within the walls of this once thriving forgotten city, imagining how the people lived during its the days of its greatness, I will never forget.
A city shrouded in mystery.
There are many theories and speculations about Great Zimbabwe.    Some archeologists describe the huge structure, as the possible work of the Phoenicians, others say it was built by arabs! No one up to this day, have descovered or know who built the Great Zimbabwe.
The ruins were discovered during a hunting trip by Adam Renders in 1867, he after showed the ruins to Karl Mauch in 1871.   Karl favoured a legend that the structure was built to replicate the palace of the "Queen of Sheba" in Jerusalem.  Renders was a scout, he crossed the borders of Moçambique into other parts of southern africa.   His life story is a fascinating one.
Many books have been written and exsist of tales and stories of this great forgotten city in the land that I once knew as 
Mashonaland.  -Rhodesia & Nyasaland

            I recall pestering my parents on many an occasion  to take me to see  Great Zimbabwe. At that time we were learning about it at school.  I wanted so much to see this mystic city , that still holds a fascination for me up to today. It was and is a sight that one can never forget. (the photos i am showing, are all taken from the internet)..  My parents were not keen photographers .  My father always used to say." you don't need cameras ", "your mind is your camera".. I believe that to be true. Once something is imprinted in one's mind. We never forget.  How could I ever forget an impressive structure such as this.
                               The walkways within the walls. some of the walls reach 36ft and made of granite stone.  It is the most unique structure.  The stones are placed ingeniously on top of each other in a manner that supports this formidable structure. No mortar has been used. I always felt that " something" a wonderous feeling when i walked through the corridors and walls  of Zimbabwe.
                                              A Vervet monkey.. They are all over the place
                                               A view from the hilltop. Most impressive
                                                      Another entrance or exit
                                            Remains of some of the walls

                                 Great Zimbabwe is truly mind boggling . Sitting on top of a hill, one can only imagine that it was once the home of  some ingenious ancient tribe.

                                        The main entrance.  The whole design is very different from any other African structure.
Examination of all the existing evidence gathered every quarter. Still produce not one single item that is not in accordance with the claim of Bantu Origin. (medieval)  I myself after all these years, believe this to be true.
Portuguese traders were the first to visit the ancient city in the early 16th century.   Records survive of interviews and notes made by some of them.
Two of the accounts mention an inscription above the entrance to great Zimbabwe , written in characters not known to the Arab merchants who had seen it at that time.

This is an old map.  A Colonial map that I grew up with. Although you can see that here they have called Salisbury its Bantu name "Harare".  It was known then as Southern and Northern Rhodesia.

                                            The new up to date map of Zimbabwe..
                                                    Shona 's dancing a traditional dance.
                                               A traditional "witchdoctor".. These great men of wisdom, still look the same today, and the people still believe that they can be  cured by their mystic powers  and make them better.  Traditions never die!
Shona (Bakalanga)-  There are around 10 groups that are found belonging to the Shona, in west and eastern areas of Zimbabwe , Botswana , southern Africa and Mocambique.
                                                     Majestic -
                                            The thorn trees of southern Africa. They cannot be mistaken,at dusk or early morning, if you look very carefully , you will see the Giraffe's eating from them.
                                                        "Zimbabwe" today.  I  remember well this square in one of the main gardens. Today's Harare is so very very different from my time living in the then Colonial "Salisbury".
                                                            " Harare" today.  Known for its magnificent avenues of Jakarada trees.
Once you know Africa and have lived in Africa, your love for it never dies.  You become part of Africa and Africa becomes part of you.    I have visited my old friends in Africa several times during these last 15 years.   I hope one day to return again. I have such wonderful memories of my time spent there.
What I have written today dear blogging friends.   half my own recollections and writings and some chapters taken from write ups from "Wikipedia".. I do not profess to know everything about Zimbabwe ruins.
I write with nostalgia about this wonderful land.

 With your sundowner on your porch!
I hope that you might look up and read about this wonderful part of the world and the history  of -
Great Zimbabwe, maybe  get a little insight into the wonderful years I spent in my beloved Africa.

Wishing you all a happy week. 


  1. Hello Val:
    What a wonderful and intriguing post about an amazing place which we are not at all surprised to learn has continued to fascinate you since childhood.

    We too long to visit Africa and, like you, were brought up on all the old Colonial names - so much has changed in our lifetimes and the present day fate of Zimbabwe is so very sad.

  2. I so agree with you about Zimbabwe today. I enjoyed writing this post and wanted to remember it as it was. I hope one day you can visit Africa , its a wonderful country.
    Thank you Jane and Lance you are always so kind with your comments.

  3. Dear Val - this is such an absorbing post for me as I know so little about the area. I can well imagine the impact that Great Zimbabwe must have held for you as a young girl, and how interesting that even to this day so little is known about its origins - there is obviously still plenty of work to be learnt there for future budding archaeologists.
    The avenues of Jakaranda trees in Harare are beautiful, but the name Salisbury, I still feel, to be much more fitting.
    Like Jane and Lance, I feel sad for Zimbabwe today and its current troubled history. Mugabe has taken the country to a very difficult place.

    1. Dear Rosemary,
      Thank you so much for your kind comments.
      If we put politics at one side - especially "Mugabe" - who I have not time for at all. He is starving his own people, to feed his own greed.
      I do have friends that still visit Zimbabwe. Avoiding "Salisbury" Harare- and make their way to the bush regions, fishing trips and so on. Of course its nothing like it was when i was growing up, but there live the true people of this wonderful country. Which i hope to write about in my next post. There is so much to be learnt still like you say.
      wishing you a happy Sunday

  4. Val, once again, a great trip for me! And along with your Dad, I've been saying that "memories are photographs taken by the mind" for years...:)JP

    1. Pleased that you enjoyed the trip with me. I totally agree.. nothing like memories in our mind.
      thank you JP.
      happy sunday

  5. Dear Val, It is obvious that you love Africa today as much as you did when you were young. So good that you keep these lovely memories intact irrespective of what is happening today. Your post, written from the heart, has made a lasting impression. Thank you for that. ox, Gina

    1. Dear Gina,
      Yes, Africa will always be in my heart. I spent nearly half my life there. I married there, and my 4 wonderful children were born there. Africa has always had its problems,but still remains a wonderful country.
      Thank you Gina for your kind comments.

  6. Hello, I just found your blog and I am so excited. I am a retired wife, mother and grandmother. My husband is six years younger than myself and still working, so we do not have the time to travel that much and when we do it it usually local and visiting family. I have always dreamed of seeing far away places. Therefore; if you don't mind, I will just follow your blog and travel with you.
    This post was very interesting, an informative and your photos are great. I am excited about following your journeys and in getting to know you better through blogging.
    Please accept my invitation to visit and to follow me back. My site may not be as adventurous as yours, but I would love to have you as my newest blogging sister.
    Have a marvelous day, Connie :)

    1. Hello there Connie,
      I am delighted that you like my blog and this post.
      How kind of you to become my newest follower.
      I was over your blog and left a comment and am now following you.
      You are more than welcome to tag along and join me in my adventures..
      Wishing you a wonderful sunday.

  7. Val, I found your post so fascinating and loved the photos. What lovely memories you must have.
    Patricia x

    1. So pleased that you enjoyed my post number 1 of 3 today Patricia.
      I do have wonderful memories of my many years spent in Africa.
      happy sunday

  8. You show me once again, that I hardly know anything about Africa! I have heard people saying the same as you do: After visiting Africa - you always want to go back! I have been working with people from Tanzania and we had a family friend from Kongo (he had studied here in Switzerland) who always stayed with us during Christmas. He was such a wonderful man - somehow we lost track with him though after he returned. One of our neighbours is African and it is so wonderful to see him and always a cheerful moment. Thank you, Val for sharing - you are a fabulous and heartwarming woman! Christa

    1. I too enjoy knowing about different places. Africa is in my heart and always will be. I lived there so many years.
      The people are wonderful, both black and white. Shame that you lost track of your friend.
      You are always so kind Christa, with your comments they give me inspiration to write .
      thank you

  9. Thank you for your kind comments. I love it when you come by my blog for a visit. Thank you for sharing such an interesting post. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

    1. So sweet of you Lisa. I am pleased that you enjoyed my post.
      The weekend is a splendid one.
      thank you

  10. Just got home from breakfast and saying our goodbyes to my nephew, before they head south towards Arizona. Now, I have a one hour break before heading into town to the senior center for a once a month concert. I play guitar and sing with our Old Time Fiddlers group. Some days are mellow and laid back, and others like today, I'm jumping through hoops. SO GOES LIFE.
    Thank you so much for responding to my comment and for following my blog. I greatly appreciate it and I know we will become great blogging friends, Connie :)

  11. Very interesting Val, I can tell by the way you write about your memories in Africa, that a little piece of you will always be there
    Thea x

    1. Thank you Thea. Africa is part of me.
      pleased you found the post interesting.

  12. Hi Val: Loved your tour and facts of Great Zimbabwe. Africa has always fasinated me. I remember seeing movies back in the 50's about Africa. Elephant Walk comes to mind. Elizabeth Taylor and I can't remember who else starred in it. Probably very romanticized, but interesting to me as a teen ager, and of course, Out of Africa, which I think I will rent and watch again. I have fallen behind in reading all my special friends post as I've just noticed about your beautiful dishes you painted and fired and your trip to the garden center. Thank you for your sweet words about the kitchen. I'm so happy it is done and now we can enjoy it, even if it does mean I have to start cooking again..Happy Sunday..Judy

    1. Nice to hear from you Judy, pleased that you enjoyed this post.
      Yes, some great movies were made about Africa.
      Thank you for your comments.

  13. I love learning about new countries and what a bonus today to get an insight into Africa from you. I spent most of my childhood in Germany so I can appreciate how Africa can have a special place in your heart. My Grandfather spent many years in South Africa and I would love to visit it some day. Thank you for such an interesting post.
    Sarah x

    1. Thank you dear Sarah,
      It makes me very happy when i read your comments,they give me inspiration. I am pleased that you learned something new today. We all learn something new every day.
      I can understand that you too must have fond memories of Germany and even possibly speak the language. How interesting that your Grandfather lived in South Africa. Who knows, one day, you might visit that wonderful country.
      happy sunday eve
      val x

  14. Your posting you today is very interesting. You show us a place where you lived, have memories and it seems that you love very much. I do not know much about Africa, just that I hear on television or read in newspapers. I know only charitable works of UNICEF and "Doctors without borders ",that have activities in Africa.
    Thank you for sharing with us your life and you feelings !

    1. Dear Olympia,
      I do have very fond memories close to my heart. Africa today is a very different Africa.
      So much is being done to change things for the better. Its a wonderful country.
      Thank you for leaving your encouraging comments.

  15. Oh my goodness I am in AWE! You have done more in your lifetime then I have done in mine. How wonderful! Loved the photos and going on your trip. Very interesting as I know I won't ever see it! Thanks. sandie

  16. Hello Val

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your life in Africa today. So foreign from anything I know. I could almost smell the air as you described it. I have only been to Tangier in N. Africa. In 1970's I was offered a job in South Africa, I had my papers and was close to going, then I re-considered it, for politically unstable reasons. My employer gave me a large raise and I remained where I was. I sometimes ponder what it would have been like.

    Looking forward to your next episode on Africa

    Have a week of joy

    Helen xx

    1. Dear Helen,
      your kind comments encourage me, as they always have since I started blogging.
      North Africa is another story. very different ,even though in Africa . I too have been to Tangiers ,I want to go back again someday ..We sailed to Morrocco. first port of call Tangiers.
      Southern Africa is beautiful. Of course in my early years, under colonial rule it was very very different from the southern Africa and Zimbabwe of today.
      I am sure you often ponder on how you could have ended up in S.A.
      wishing you a good monday..
      val x x x

  17. Dear Sandie
    I was very young, when i started travels with my parents.
    I am pleased that you enjoyed this post and trip to the Great Zimbabwe.. its an amazing place
    You might not visit these places, but you can see them many times on National Geographic.
    thank you Sandie


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