Museums are Zim’s conduits for its culture, heritage

Among the most intriguing visits to the museum is the Shona Village situated at the Great Zimbabwe World Heritage site that was declared a National Monument in 1937 and a World Heritage Site in 1986.

The village is an ethnographic depiction of continuing traditional lifestyles since the Great Zimbabwe period to present day.

It offers a general representation of the dynamic Shona Culture and traditional practices in such aspects as architecture, social, economic and political practices, education and entertainment, performing arts, fine arts, crafts and traditional healing. The village plans to provide overnight accommodation to tourists who wish to experience the African night in traditional houses constructed using traditional methods and styles.

“Generations of Heritage managers realised that there is need to establish a living museum at the site to aid in the presentation and preservation of the Shona culture as well as add value to Great Zimbabwe World Heritage Site. This implies that Great Zimbabwe is not only a gift to Zimbabweans, (nor) is it a gift to the region and Africa (alone), but it is a gift to the entire world,” said Lovemore Mandima, the director of the Southern Region of the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ).

The Great Zimbabwe is divided into three major concentric zones which are the Hill Complex, the Valley Enclosure and the Great Enclosure. It is also a cultural and archaeological site.
In 1980, it gave its name to the country and arguably became the only known cultural site that has given its name to a great nation like Zimbabwe.

“Apart from the silent, dry stone walls found at Great Zimbabwe, NMMZ, in its wisdom and also deriving this wisdom from international standards in heritage management, thought of coming up with a model of a traditional Shona Village as an addition to the dry stones. The idea behind this is that of educating its visitorship in its entirety on the different aspects of the Shona culture hence the artefacts one finds at the Shona village give a vivid picture of the Shona way of life.

“These include the traditional ways of harnessing food, iron smelting, pottery and basket making, wood and stone carving and the concept of polygamy, just to mention a few,” Mandima said.

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