Saving the Sacred Sites - Nharira Hills, Zimbabwe
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Zimbabwe's Sacred Sites, including the sacred site and official National Monument where we live and that is a home to more 80 other families - the famous Nharira Hills - are under attack by a private company that somehow has gotten the rights to the land in order to survey the sites for mining and quarry purposes.
Our aim is to save the Nharira Hills, an official National Monument and the place where we live, and to push the government of Zimbabwe to pass a law protecting all sacred sites and national monuments from being privately owned and destroyed.
We are putting up a fight and we hope with the support of the international community, and all those who love the monuments, sacred places, and nature of their own homelands, we can win in the end.
Below is our statement:
When we settled here, at the Nharira Hills in Zimbabwe, with the blessing and permission of the Spiritual Custodian of the Nharira Hills Sekuru Botemupote Mushore, we quickly declared our intentions to honor and protect this space and with those sincere wishes we were welcomed by Sekuru.
Encountering this place and its natural features, as well as the sacred essence which imbues everything here, from the earth, to the mountains, to the trees, to the stones, to the people, it was clear to us that we cannot simply use this land for our private residence. Instead, we were determined to open it up to all arts and cultural practitioners – hence our idea of a cultural village. We wanted to create an authentic culture hub, and while this would take us some time, we were and are still determined never to give up.
Over the past few years, despite the hardships in our country, we have worked and
collaborated with many practitioners – we have organized exhibitions, workshops,
residency programs, festivals, and outreach programs among others. Some of these projects afforded us learning experiences on which we have continued to build on, while others blossomed immediately with great success, rendering us a permanent space as a model for arts and culture hubs internationally. As a result of our work we have attracted the attention of many people in our country, the region, the Afrikan continent, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and the Caribbean; it is with these proud roots of lived experience and effort that we are now prepared to enter the New Zimbabwe.
Regrettably, there are some who are seriously poised to kill this dream!
Quarry miners and Cement Manufacturing companies are greedily eyeing this Sacred Site, as they have done with the rest of the Nharira Hills, which are made up of massive, ‘balancing’, granite boulders within which are housed; the sacred caves used by our Ancestors from time immemorial for burial, granaries and worship. Suffice to say, these companies do not mean to ‘enjoy the nature.’ Their aim is destruction. They want to murder our mountains and do away with those sacred places that have sustained our Ancestors, and would sustain future generations after us.
Yes, we are putting up a fight and we know with the support of the international community, and all those who love the monuments, sacred places, and nature of their own homelands, we can win in the end. What we are protecting is real and sacred and true for our entire beautiful country!
We must understand that this is what a ‘New Zimbabwe’ means to many people, chiefly to the drooling foreign governments lining up now to ‘invest’ – the ones that we are now slavishly depending on to save us from our economic troubles. To them, a ‘New Zimbabwe’ means a place where sacred sites are sold and blown up, and where the loudest language in the discussion – louder than Hunhu and the Earth – is money. Please understand! They do not live here. They have already destroyed their own lands. To them, blowing up sacred mountains is normal. They will do it again and again, in the name of money, development and progress. They will evict the spirits from our lands and tell us that this is what being ‘civilized’ means. They know how. They have done it before.
We believe Zimbabwe’s economy will very soon be on “steroids” – moving faster than any economy in the world. By worldly standards we are soon going to find ourselves an economic giant. However it is at this speed that many other things about ourselves as Afrikan and as Zimbabwean are going to get either lost or erased in total. These “things about ourselves” include our Hunhu-Heritage, our Natural Sacred Sites, our natural clean water rivers and most importantly our clean air!
All is not lost, however. We are a free country, a free people, with a rich heritage, and we have a choice – we must stand up for our Heritage and Earth now, before another sale is completed, before another mountain suffers the indignity of a human-made grave, before we watch our Heritage suffer and then see our children cry as a result. What will we tell them when they ask us about the air and the water and the stones that carry all of our stories as a people?
To tell this story through a story we are all (unfortunately) familiar with, Zimbabwe right now, is like that woman who has been abused again and again and again by the men in her life. That woman, battered by hands that promised love, does not yet know what it means to be respected. The next man who comes along and offers her five dollars, she may very well take him in and give him her priceless, beautiful heart. She is not yet aware that five dollars will buy her a bucket of chibage(maize), but will certainly not sustain the hearts and hopes of a family. She only knows that five dollars is more than she received before, so maybe it is what she deserves. Only she herself can discover what she is worth, and she must do it as a whole human being, valuing that, which is most valuable – her heart. Zimbabwe can now flourish, but only with its heart intact! And that heart means honoring the sacred places of this sacred land.
Those of us who believe in our indigenous traditions, those who see the value of our Hunhu Heritage, NSS and Indigenous Knowledge Systems need to stand up and give advice, lobby the respective ministries in government and we need to do this very fast! This is not rebellion or revolution, but simply a way of creating a Zimbabwe which will be a model for other Afrikan countries, holding within it both a sky rocketing, abundant economy and at the same time underpinned in absolutely everything with rich indigenous value systems!
WE CAN DO IT!
DZIMBANHETE ARTS AND CULTURE INTERACTIONS TRUST, ZIMBABWE 2018
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