I was coerced into a visit to the Kame (Khami) Ruins by two dear relatives of ours.
Now I have to admit, I have lived in Bulawayo all my life and have never viewed the Kame Ruins, how terrible is that
It's a bit like people who live in Cape Town have never been up the Table Mountain Cableway!!
Anyhow we sallied forth with the help of GPS app 'Maps' and got horribly lost, somewhere near Solusi University, but a kind fellow motorist directed us in the right direction, and it was actually quite easy to find. Head out on 13th Avenue, past the railway station and keep going for 22 kilometers!!
I had thought that the Khami Ruins were 'just another pile of old rocks' but not so....the museum was disappointing as it was under refurbishment, but the ruins themselves were fascinating.
Very grand in fact, spectacular is another word I could use, and totally fascinating. I just wish I had done my homework and read up on the Ruins beforehand.
The property, located on a 1300 m hilltop downstream from a dam built during 1928-1929, covers an area of about 108 hectares, spread over a distance of about 2 km from the Passage Ruin to the North Ruin.
The property was the capital of the Torwa dynasty, which arose from the collapse of the Great Zimbabwe Kingdom between 1450 -1650 and was abandoned during the Ndebele incursions of the 19th century
It is composed of a complex series of platforms of dry-stone walled structures, emulating a later development of Stone Age culture. The chief's residence (Mambo) was located towards the north on the Hill Ruin site with its adjacent cultivation terraces. The population lived in dagga huts of cob work, surrounded by a series of granite walls.
These structures display a high standard of workmanship, a great number of narrow passageways and perambulatory galleries and impressive chevron and chequered wall decorations. Khami conforms to Great Zimbabwe in a number of archaeological and architectural aspects but it possesses certain features particular to itself and its successors such as Danangombe and Zinjanja.
Revetments or retaining walls found expression for the first time in the architectural history of the sub-region at Khami, and with it were elaborate decorations; it still has the longest decorated wall in the entire sub-region.
The archaeological zone was protected as a 'Royal Reserve' until the death of King Lobengule in 1893. In recognition of the historic, cultural and architectural significance of the site, it was scheduled as a National Monument in 1937. Currently the National Museums and Monuments Act Cap. 25:11 legally protect the property and its resources.
There is a possibility that Khami was visited by Portuguese merchants and even missionaries, because a monumental cross consisting of small blocks of granite can still be seen traced on the rocky ground of Cross Hill, a small hillock immediately north of the mambo residence.
The museum is under reconstruction at the moment and I look forward to another visit, when the museum is once more an integral part of this fascinating Zimbabwean National Monument.