My Country, My Pride, My Zimbabwe!

The origin of the word Zimbabwe is not known, but there are two schools of thought. It could be short form for "ziimba remabwe", a Shona / chiKaranga term, which means "the great or big house built of stones". The Karanga language was said by ancient Portuguese missionaries to be the language of the Munhumutapa’s court.

A second theory is that Zimbabwe is a contracted form of "dzimba woye" which means "venerated houses," a term usually reserved for chiefs' houses or graves.

The Flag of Freedom

Our flag was adopted on the Independence Day (18th April 1980) of the newly formed Zimbabwe under direction of the Prime Minister, Robert Mugabe.

The Green represents country's vegetation and land resources, the argricultural sector.
Corn, cotton, wheat, coffee, tea, sugarcane, tobacco, peanuts, forestry, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and dairy.

The Yellow represents the country's mineral wealth.
Coal, chromium ore, asbestos, gold, nickel, copper, iron ore, vanadium, lithium, tin and platinum group metals.

The Red represents the blood spilt during the armed liberation struggle.
The 'bush war' was fought for almost 15 years. Ian Smith's Rhodesian government fought liberation groups ZANU, under Robert Mugabe, and ZAPU, under Joshua Nkomo.

The Black represents the black majority.
The 'shona' people derived from Bantu speaking people who formed the Munhumutapa Empire which covered the Zimbabwe-Mozambique area in the 15th century. The 'ndebele' people are of the Nguni tribes in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Mzilikazi, a Zulu general under Chaka Zulu defected and fled, then attacked and defeated the Nguni and moved north and started GuBulawayo.

The Zimbabwe Bird is the National Emblem of Zimbabwe.

The White Triangle represents peace and honesty.

The Red Star stands for internationalism and reflects the ruling party's socialist credentials.


The Zimbabwe Bird

Today the Matsheumhlope River meanders lazily past Bulawayo. It was a raging torrent when the area was known as Munhumutapa.

A boy named Ndhlovu lived in a kraal on the banks of river Matsheumhlope. One day as he washed in the river, an enormous crocodile appeared, sunk his teeth into Ndhlovu’s legs and dragged him into deep water. As Ndhlovu struggled to free himself, a giant falcon swooped down out of the sky and began harrying the crocodile.

Ndhlovu, even with the aid of the falcon, was no match for the monstrous creature but just as he was on the verge of giving up he saw the falcon dive at the crocodile’s head and pluck an eye out with its razor-sharp beak. The crocodile thrashed its tail about wildly, making the water appear to boil. In its agony it released its grip on Ndhlovu’s leg. The falcon made another dive for the crocodile’s other eye but it disappeared under the water.

Ndhlovu struggled weakly to the bank and dragged himself out of the river. Both of Ndhlovu’s legs had been bitten off and he fell unconscious as the falcon circled overhead. Fortunately a member of the tribe found Ndhlovu and took him to the nyanga (witch doctor) who tended his wounds.
In time, Ndhlovu recovered his health. He never got his legs back, and could no longer work alongside the other men of the tribe. He spent his time telling the story of his ordeal and the heroic deeds of the falcon which was never seen again.

The story, and Ndhlovu, became something of a legend and children from other tribes along the river and further afield came to listen to his story. Ndhlovu became an accomplished orator but could never describe the falcon to his satisfaction, so he began to sculpt figurines of the bird from the soft sandstone that was plentiful in the area. He made many of these figurines and they became very popular with the children who had heard his story. Every child who came to Ndhlovu’s kraal had to have a figurine to take home. This helped the legend spread.

Ndhlovu grew old and eventually passed away but the stone birds carried the magic of the legendary falcon on. Many decades later the legend had almost been forgotten, but some of the great stone birds survived.

Legend amongst Zimbabwe's black population has it that there were originally 7 Soapstone Birds at the Great Zimbabwe Ruins, all of which had mysteriously been taken out of the country. Only 4 have since been returned. It is said that peace will never return to Zimbabwe until all seven of these artifacts have been returned to their rightful place.

The Coat of Arms

Our Coat of Arms was adopted on the 21 September 1981.

The Green Shield represents the fertility and richness of our soil.

The blue and white wavy lines symbolise the water which brings life to our land.

The representation of Great Zimbabwe stands for the historical heritage of the nation.

The Rifle and Hoe represent the transition from war to peace.

The Wreath is formed of twisted strips of gold and green silk, and represents the mining and agricultural enterprise which protects our national economy.

The Wreath supports the Crest in which the star is an ancient symbol of hope for the future, tinctured red to remind us of the suffering of all our peoples and the need to avoid any recurrence of that suffering.

The Star bears the Great Zimbabwe Bird which has become our distinctive national emblem.

The ‘kudu’ Antelope in their natural colours display a harmonious blend of black, white and brown to symbolise the unity of purpose of the various ethnic groups which comprise the people of this country.

The earthen mound bears the plants which give food and clothing to the people.

The Motto (Unity, Freedom, Work) reminds us of our need to maintain a desire for national unity and the will to work, in order to preserve the freedom which we enjoy.

National Anthem

Blessed be the Land of Zimbabwe

O lift high the banner, the flag of Zimbabwe
The symbol of freedom proclaiming victory;
We praise our heros' sacrifice,
And vow to keep our land from foes;
And may the Almighty protect and bless our land.

O lovely Zimbabwe, so wondrously adorned
With mountians, and rivers cascading, flowing free;
May rain abound, and fertile fields;
May we be fed, our labour blessed;
And may the Almighty protect and bless our land.

O God, we beseech Thee to bless our native land;
The land of our fathers bestowed upon us all;
From Zambezi to Limpopo May leaders be exemplary;
And may the Almighty protect and bless our land.


ZANU-PF is the ruling political party in Zimbabwe led by the President Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe African National Union was a party founded by Ndabaningi Sithole, a Methodist minister and Herbert Chitepo, a prominent Barrister in the 1960's as a nationalist movement seeking independence and freedom for the indigenous people of Southern Rhodesia. Robert Mugabe joined them in 1963. ZANU was influenced by the Africanist ideas of the Pan Africanist Congress in South Africa and influenced by Maoism (Mao Tse-tung). It challenged, and finally defeated the colonial governmental system which was based on racism, minority rule, and totally undemocratic.

On 18 March 1975 Herbert Chitepo was assassinated in Lusaka and Mugabe was nominated to lead ZANU. Later that year there was a factional split along tribal lines, and the Ndebele followed Sithole into the moderate Zanu (Ndonga) party, who renounced violent struggle, while the Shona followed Mugabe with a more militant agenda.

In the process of mobilisation, ZANU sought to unite the people into one nation. In 1976 it formed an alliance between the two Parties that were fighting for independence, ZAPU and ZANU, and called it The Patriotic Front. Three years later in 1979 when the British Government convened the Lancaster House conference to draw up a new constitution for Zimbabwe, the Patriotic Front emerged as the authentic voice of the Zimbabwean people.

Mugabe won the 1980 elections. In 1988 after 8 years of low-level civil war termed Gukurahundi, the opposition Zimbabwe African People's Union, (ZAPU), led by Joshua Nkomo, merged with ZANU to form ZANU-PF with the added moniker of Patriotic Front, in what was seen as a step towards a one party state.


Movement for Democratic Change

The MDC is the opposition political party in Zimbabwe led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
The party has its roots in Zimbabwe's labour movement. MDC is backed by businesses, churches, womens' organisations, students, human rights and civic groups, the impoverished rural population and the urban poor.

Some five years ago, the deterioration of Zimbabwe's economy and official corruption reached alarming proportions. This naturally brought the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the mother body of the labour in Zimbabwe, into direct conflict with the Zanu-PF government.

The ZCTU then organised a series of national strikes by large sections of the labour force to protest the sad state of affairs. This was an attempt to force the government of Zanu PF to take steps to halt the economic decline and instill discipline and accountability amongst the political elite. The government failed to respond. This ultimately led to the formation of the MDC.

The open hand on the flag is the election symbol of the MDC and it represents transparency. It is holding nothing, hiding nothing, showing commitment to change in Zimbabwe. We have nothing to hide, we carry no weapons and we promote the ideals of a peaceful democracy. In addition it illustrates that each one of us has the power to change the current political status quo in Zimbabwe by voting for the MDC.

Great Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe is the name given to the remains of a Southern African ancient city, located in present-day Zimbabwe which was once the centre of a vast empire known as the Munhumutapa Empire covering the modern states of Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

The walls and structures have stood the ravages of time and weather for almost 2 thousand years. Sitting on an open plain surrounded by hills, it was begun in the 13th century by the Shona people and is considered the greatest ancient structure in sub-Saharan Africa. Great Zimbabwe (meaning houses of stone) was finished in the 14th century and housed as many as 20,000 people. This religious center's influence spanned an area from Mozambique, across Zimbabwe, through Botswana and to South Africa.

An early European explorer, Viçente Pegado, Captain of the Portuguese Garrison of Sofala, described Zimbabwe thus, in 1531.

"Among the gold mines of the inland plains between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers there is a fortress built of stones of marvelous size, and there appears to be no mortar joining them. This edifice is almost surrounded by hills, upon which are others resembling it in the fashioning of stone and the absence of mortar, and one of them is a tower more than 12 fathoms [22 m] high. The natives of the country call these edifices Symbaoe, which according to their language signifies court."

Stretching over 4km, most of the people at Great Zimbabwe lived outside the perimeter walls. The king lived on a hill in a series of ritual and royal enclosures called the Hill Complex. This was the first set of structures to be completed, therefore the oldest. The Valley Enclosures, where lesser officials would have lived, is a series of walls and platforms, and containing a high conical tower.

The Great Enclosure, thought to have housed the royal family, is the structure most identified with the site. It is 100m across and 255m in circumference and had mortar-less walls rising 11m and in some places, they are 5m thick. Another Conical Tower rises 10m and connects to a 70m long Parallel Passage. This passage is considered the most architecturally advanced structure in Great Zimbabwe with stone tapering to adding stability to the wall. It also includes three rings of decorative chevron patterns.

The entire complex covers almost 1,800 acres. Great Zimbabwe, as well as being a religious center, was also a great trade center and items from China, Persia and India have been found there. Herds of cattle were also kept at Great Zimbabwe and further illustrate the wealth accumulated over the years.

In the end, Great Zimbabwe's success was probably its downfall. By the 15th century, too many people and animals had depleted the natural resources. By the 16th century, Great Zimbabwe was deserted. Nobody knows for sure why the site was eventually abandoned. Perhaps it was due to drought, perhaps due to disease or it simply could be that the decline in the gold trade forced the people who inhabited Great Zimbabwe to look for greener pastures.


Lake Kariba

The Zambezi River rises in north western Zambia and its catchment area covers 1,352,000 square kilometers in 8 countries. It flows for some 2,650 kilometers from its source to the Indian Ocean.

In August 1955 , the then Federal Government of Rhodesia and Nyasaland called for tenders for the construction of the wall and power station at Kariba. It was awarded to the Italian consortium 'Impresit' on 16 July 1956. Kariba Dam was designed by the French engineer and inventor Andre Coyne.

The construction of Lake Kariba in the late 1950's was a mammoth task. It took 7,000 people over four years, through extreme temperatures and floods, to tame the mighty Zambezi River. When finished the wall threw back a lake 280kms long, an artificial inland sea that covers 5,200 square kilometres (a quarter the size of Wales). At that time it was the biggest man-made lake in the world.
The name Kariba (Kariva - meaning trap) refers to a rock which thrust out of the swirling water at the entrance to the gorge close to the dam wall site, now buried more than a hundred feet below the water surface. In many legends, this rock was regarded as the home of the great River God Nyaminyami, who caused anyone who ventured near to be sucked down for ever into the depths of the river.

In 1957, a year into the building of the dam, the river rose to flood level, pumping through the gorge with immense power, destroying some equipment and the access roads. The odds against another flood occurring the following year were about a thousand to one - but flood it did - three metres higher than the previous year. This time destroying the access bridge, the coffer dam and parts of the main wall. A total of 86 men died in the construction of the dam wall, mostly Italian men from the construction company.

Nyaminyami had made good his threat. He had recaptured the gorge. Although man eventually won the battle when the dam was finally opened in 1960, there was a whole new respect for the power of the River God.

Over 50,000 people, mainly members of the Tonga tribe, had to leave their traditional homes and move to new areas as the waters rose in the the Zambezi Valley. Although land was set aside for them further up the valley, they were reluctant to leave their tribal lands and felt the move from the riverside would displease Nyaminyami.
When the floods came and did in fact destroy parts of the bridge, this only served to confirm their fears. It took many months of reasoning and coaxing to convince the people that the bridge would provide power (a luxury they had no knowledge of) for the whole country.

Eventually, however, when the trucks moved in to relocate them, they conceded, having little choice. Schools and clinics were built in some of the new areas and wells installed for their arrival. Some new villages that were relocated close to the water’s edge have prospered with the new fishing opportunities on the lake. But many mourn the loss of the rich alluvial river soil and battle to produce crops in the higher sandier areas. For the most part, the move was a severe disruption of their way of life and compensation minimal.

Operation NOAH - As the dam began to fill, it became evident that thousands of animals were being stranded on islands. Appeals were made and money raised to buy boats and equipment for their rescue and relocation. It was a huge task and was beset by numerous hazards. Submerged trees and stumps threatened the hulls of the boats and on the islands there were huge concentrations of snakes including the deadly black mamba.

One story tells of a game ranger who climbed a tree in a swimming costume and gloves to catch a mamba with a noosed stick. Another tells of the rescue of a black rhino stranded on a small island. The animal was pursued for several hours until eventually it was driven past a marksman with a crossbow loaded with a muscle relaxing dart.

Suitably sedated, the rhino was rolled on to a sledge, dragged ashore and loaded onto a raft buoyed up by eighteen petrol drums. Raft, rhino and all were then towed to the mainland some twelve miles away. An astonishing forty-four rhinos were rescued in this way. In all some 7000 animals were saved during Operation Noah.

The lake now provides hydro-electric power to both Zimbabwe and Zambia as well as allowing for business within tourism, transport and fishing. It is now a very popular resort lake with an airport, harbour, lakeside hotels and lodges, huge houseboats, marinas, water-sports and fishing. It is also a commercial fishing centre with the crane-like capenta rigs illuminating the night-time waters of the lake.

At the same time, the dam attracts vast quantities of game, both big and small. Huge Nile crocodiles inhabit the lake as do many hippos and it is not uncommon to stumble into a herd of elephants on the lakeshore.

The Smoke that Thunders

The earliest inhabitants of the area around Victoria Falls were Khoisan hunter-gatherers (bushmen). They were followed by the Tokaleya people, who called the falls ‘Shongwe’. Later, the Ndebele named them ‘aManza Thunqayo’, and the Makololo named them ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’, meaning "The smoke that thunders".

It was the mighty Zambezi which led missionary Dr. David Livingstone on his greatest and final adventure. In search of a means to access the interior, Livingstone tagged the Zambezi "God's highway" to the Indian Ocean and set off down the river. That year, 1855, he stood on an island in the middle of the Zambezi and stared in wonder at this creation of nature.

He wrote of the falls "No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes; but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight".

The falls are formed as the Zambezi plummets into a narrow chasm about 120 m (400 ft) wide, carved by its waters along a fracture zone in the earth's crust. Numerous islets at the crest of the falls divide the water to form a series of falls. The Falls are divided into five separate waterfalls: Devil's Cataract, Main Falls, Horseshoe Falls, Rainbow Falls and Eastern Cataract. Over the centuries, the falls have been receding upstream, falling at different eras into numerous chasms which now form a series of sharply zig-zagging gorges downstream from the falls.
The falls are extremely broad at about 1.7 km across, and the height of the cascade varies from 80m at the right bank to 105 m in the centre - about twice the height of Niagara Falls. The falling water generates spray and mist that can rise to heights of over a mile (1.6 km), and is visible from up to 40 km (25 miles) away.

Just below the boiling pot, and almost at right angles to the falls, the gorge is spanned by a bridge, one of only five over the Zambezi river, which was completed in April 1905 and was initially intended as a link in Cecil Rhodes’ Cape-Cairo railway scheme. The bridge is 250 metres across and the top of the bridge is 125 metres above the low-water level of the river. Today, regular rail services connect the towns of Victoria Falls and Livingstone with Bulawayo in Zimbabwe via the bridge, with another line running from Livingstone to Lusaka in Zambia.

This bridge is also used as a structure from which thousands have now experienced bunjee jumping. The ‘white waters’ that push and shove their way through the gorges that follow the falls have become one of the most exciting venues for white water rafting in the world.


The Eastern Highlands

In 1962 several anti-colonial political groups in Mozambique formed the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), which initiated an armed campaign against Portuguese colonial rule in September 1964. After 10 years of sporadic warfare in Mozambique and the major political changes in Portugal due to the military coup of 1974, Mozambique became independent on June 25, 1975.

In Southern Rhodesia, anti-government guerilla activity which began in the late 1960s, increased dramatically after 1972, causing destruction, economic dislocation, casualties, and a slump in white morale. In 1974, the major African nationalists groups, ZANU and ZAPU united to form the Patriotic Front. The situation in Mozambique helped them in many ways.

The Patriotic Fronts’ strategy was based mostly on classic Maoist guerrilla warfare, but was tempered by the realities of local conditions and experiences, and enhanced with guidance from Mozambique’s FRELIMO veterans. Mozambique was part of the Front Line States, an alliance started by Julius Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda in the late 1950’s aimed at decolonising and ending minority regimes in the former Rhodesia, South West Africa and South Africa.

Mozambique threw their full support behind Zimbabwe’s liberation movements, offering bases and sanctuary, vehicle and arms support, military training and political support at international forums.

The Eastern Highlands, as they are known, are a narrow belt of mountains and high plateaux which forms almost the entire border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This became one of the four fronts on which Southern Rhodesia fought the ‘bush war’. ZANU guerrilla forces crossed the mountain range border raiding small farms, cutting railway lines and caused terror throughout the rural areas in an effort to ‘win’ hearts and minds of the rural population.

The Eastern Highlands are made up of the Inyanga, Vumba and Chimanimani mountain ranges. Nyanga, with its jagged peaks; the Vumba, with its veil of mist; and Chimanimani, a secret world. Mountaineers love to climb Mount Nyangani, the country's highest peak and the surrounding region. The ‘World's View’ at this point offers a panoramic view across northern Zimbabwe which pictures cannot describe.

The scenery is striking in its variety, with deep valleys, gorges, bare granite peaks, pine-forested slopes and bubbling trout streams rolling down steep cliffs. The early morning mists and the crisp mountain air creates almost a world apart from the rest of Zimbabwe.

Upside-down Tree

Adansonia digitata, or Baobab tree, was named in honour of Michel Adanson, the naturalist who first saw it in Senegal, Africa about 1750.

The Baobab tree is a strange looking tree that grows in low-lying areas in Africa and Australia. In Zimbabwe they are found throughout the south-east lowveld, south-west lowveld and the Zambezi valley, from Victoria Falls to Cabora Bassa. It can grow to enormous sizes and carbon dating indicates that they may live to be 3,000 years old. The baobab can store more than 120,000 litres of water. One ancient hollow Baobab tree in Zimbabwe is so large that up to 40 people can shelter inside its trunk. Various Baobabs have been used as a shop, a prison, a house, a storage barn and a bus shelter.

When bare of leaves, the spreading branches of the Baobab look like roots sticking up into the air, rather as if it had been planted upside-down, another of its affectionate names. The African bushman has a legend that tells of the God Thora. He took a dislike to the baobab growing in his garden, so he threw it out over the wall of paradise on to earth below, and although the tree landed upside-down it continued to grow.

The tree is certainly very different from any other. The trunk is smooth and shiny, not at all like the bark of other trees, and it is pinkish grey or sometimes copper coloured. The Baobab tree has large whitish flowers which open at night. The fruit, which grows up to a foot long, contains tartaric acid and vitamin C and can either be sucked, or soaked in water to make a refreshing drink. They can also be roasted and ground up to make a coffee-like drink. The bark is pounded to make rope, mats, baskets, paper and cloth; the leaves can be boiled and eaten, and glue can be made from the pollen.

Baobabs are very difficult to kill, they can be burnt, or stripped of their bark, and they will just form new bark and carry on growing. When they do die, they simply rot from the inside and suddenly collapse, leaving a heap of fibres, which makes many people think that they don't die at all, but simply disappear.

A young plant looks very different from its adult form and this is why the Bushmen believe that it doesn't grow like other trees, but suddenly crashes to the ground with a thump, fully grown, and then one day simply disappears.