called ... Zimbabwe
Tarred Strip Road
While we were living in Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) we made a few
trips to visit Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia).
In the 1960's Zimbabwe was referred to as Rhodesia and Zambia was
referred to as Northern Rhodesia.
Mainly we travelled through Rhodesia on our way to Beira on the
Mozambique coast, stopping along the way. Salisbury (Harare) and
Bulwayo our main ports of call.
My Uncle,Geoff Bannister, lived in Salisbury with his family and we
went to visit them.
Geoff went out to Africa just before my father, and maybe it was he
who influenced my father's decision to move out to Africa. Geoff
married a local black girl called Anna and had 12 children. I don't
remember much of the visits to them.
While we were visiting Salisbury we went sight seeing ...
Salisbury was also known as the "city of flowering trees" ...
purple jacarandas, Australian flame trees, poincianas, bauhinias,
and bougainvillaea were in abundance. I remember the Flame trees
Purple Jacaranda Trees and Australian Red Flame
On the eastern skirts of the city there are extraordinary rock
formations in an area affectionately known as the Giant's
Not far from Salisbury in the foothills of the Hunyani Hills water
created a vast sinkhole in the dolomite rocks called Sinoia or
Tshirorodziva meaning "the fallen pool". The pool is over 90ft
deep. The water in the sinkhole is a deep blue colour and is
crystal clear. The pool is home to many goldfish which were
released in the pool by some unknown person.
My black and white photo does not do the pool justice so I have
added a colour photo from the web, but even this does not show the
deep beauty of the pool.
Another place which we visited because of some friends from Zambia,
the Robinsons, who had moved there was Bindura ... which means "a
place of trapping" because of the hunting by the KoreKore
To get to Bindura we had to pass through the Mazoe or Mazowe Valley
which means "the place of elephants" by the Karanga
The Europeans cultivated large citrus estates here as well as
avodados, mangoes, litchis, nuts, olives, and lemons. One estate
alone covered 21,000 hectares.
While we were in Rhodesia we visited the ruins of Great
The name is derived from the Shona dzimbabwe, or maDzimbahwe,
meaning "a great stone building".
The ruins lie in a valley at the head of the Mutirikwi River and
consist of several sites.
The Great Enclosure is in the valley itself while the Acropolis
lies on a hilltop. The military and the priests residing in the
Acropolis and the king and the people residing in the Great
Enclosure and in the other smaller residences.
Europeans had the romantic idea that the buildings were constructed
by the Egyptians, perhaps in Cleopatra's time, or some other
superior nation, but archeological evidence has not revealed signs
of the presence of any foreign people other than the Arabs and
Digs in the western enclosure of the Acropolis have revealed
evidence of five eras of occupation ... the first ended during the
4th century AD, when the second began. The third beginning in about
1000 AD, and the fourth during the 15th century.
The ruins were first discovered in 1868 by German-born Adam
Renders. And in 1869 a hunter, Willie Posselt, found one of the
soapstone "eagles" which used to decorate the pillars on top of the
walls. A further 8 of these birds were found ... six are now in
Cape Town, one is in Bulawayo, and the head of another is in
Salisbury (Harare) while its body is in Berlin. Replicas of the
bird can be seen on the country's coat of arms and on its
Stone ruins similar to Great Zimbabwe have been found at various
places in Zimbabwe although not on such a grand scale.
Top Left: Khami Ruins, Matabeleland. Top Right: Dhlo Ruins,
Matabeleland. Bottom Left: Nalatalie Ruins, Matabeleland Bottom
Right: Nyangwe Fort, Nyanga.
Not far from Bulawayo is the Rhodes Matopas Park, a name given to
the area by the Europeans.
Its native name is amaTobo meaning "the bald heads". It is named
this by the Matabele king, Mzilikazi, who remarked that the granite
outcrops reminded him of the elders of his tribe.
Artist: Aquarell von Reinhild Primbsch
The Matopas is 80 km long and are estimated to be more than 3,000
million years old.
The Matopas was used as a stronghold by the Matabele in the 1896
Rebellion, and it was here that Cecil Rhodes (after whom Rhodesia
was named) met the Matabele leaders in the four "indabas" or
conferences which ended the fighting.
Although Rhodes died at Muizenberg in South Africa his body was
transported to the Matopas and was buried on the summit of the
granite dome, known by the Europeans as Worlds View.
Also buried on the summit are Sir Leander Star Jameson, Rhodes'
friend and colleague; and Sir Charles Coglan, the first prime
minister of Rhodesia.
The remains of Major Allan Wilson and the men of his patrol who
lost their lives in pursuit of the Chief Lobengula are contained in
a monument erected on the summit.
Some of my photos are now in colour. This is because after we had
moved to Swaziland, my aunty Alice came out to Africa for a
holiday. My father took us all on a trip back to Rhodesia. The
black and white photos are from the early 1960s.
When the Chief Mzilikazi died in 1868, his son Lobengula became the
new king and in 1872 founded his capital kwaBulawayo which means
"the place of the persecuted man".
But in 1893 the Matabele tribe were defeated by the British South
Africa Company army and Lobengula fled to the north.
When the new Bulawayo was planned Cecil Rhodes ordered that the
streets should be wide enough to allow a wagon with a full span of
oxen to turn.
The last picture I have taken in the 1960s is of the bridge which
spans the Sabi River, a major river of Rhodesia and Mozambique, on
the way towards Umtali and Melsetter on the eastern border; and one
of the routes we used to take to get to Beira on the Mozambique
The colour photo is from a book, and was taken in the dry season
when the Sabi River is low.
The bridge, the Birchenough Bridge, is a single-span arch 329
metres long and 18 metres above the river. It was designed by Ralph
Freeman, the designer of Australia's Sydney Harbour Bridge and
named after Sir Henry Birchenough, chairman of the Beit Trust which
was founded by the multi-millionaire partner of Rhodes to provide
money for the building of bridges, roads, and railways in
Umtali lies at the foothills of the Chimanimani Mountains. We took
my aunt to the National Park here.
The Pungwe Gorge in the Chimanimani
Zimbabwe lies to the left of the Gorge, and Mozambique lies to the
right in the lowlands.
Chimanimani is the European derivative of Tshimanimani meaning "to
be squeezed together" and was given by the Ndawu people to the
narrow pass in the range through which the Musapa River flows.
The highest peak in the range is the Inyangani named after a
celebrated witchdoctor, Sanyanga who held sway over the mountain,
and is the highest mountain of Zimbabwe.
Melsetter was named after the Settlers from the Orange Free State who arrived in
1892. And near this town are the Bridal Veil Falls whose pool at
the bottom is said to be haunted.
In the photo you can see my Aunt, and the vehicle on the right is
The memorial to the settlers from the Orange Free State
Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe side. Top views of the gorge and
the Bridge that spans it, and below Livingstone Memorial.
Other places we visited were :
The Big Tree at
This specimen was estimated to have a girth of about 65ft when
visited by Francis Harold Watson in 1891. The men at the foot of
the tree were stationed there to give an idea of its size. Modern
measurements give the girth as 53ft (16m) and height as 66ft (20m),
while the tree is thought to be in the region of 1500 years old.
Watson first travelled to Zimbabwe in 1873 and made subsequent
expeditions, both as a trader and as a hunter.
Because of his visits to the Zambezi valley, he was affectionately
known as "Zambezi" Watson. He was accompanied by Hartley and Selous
on his journeys, and became a close friend of Selous. The Big Tree
was on the route of the Hunters Trail which starts at
Pandamatenga/Kazangula and ends at Victoria Falls.
The border between Rhodesia, Zambia, Botswana and the tip of South
We also went to Wankie Game Reserve, the Inyanga National Park, the
Van Niekerk ruins, the rock art in the Nswatugi Caves in the
Matopas National Park, the Khami ruins outside Bulawayo, and Lake
Oh, and we also met and shook hands with this guy :
Prime Minister Ian Smith
Coat of Arms
Victoria Falls cataracts
Gloriosa (Flame Lily)
Attractions and Tours of
Zimbabwe places of
Interest map and Info