The first travelers to set their eyes upon the great Zimbabwe said:
“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 high. The natives of the country call these edifices Symbaoe, which according to their language signifies court.—Viçente Pegado,”. Captain, Portuguese Garrison of Sofala, 1531
Early foreign Ignorance
When Portuguese traders first encountered the vast stone ruins of Great Zimbabwe in the sixteenth century, they believed they had found the fabled capital of the Queen of Sheba. Later travelers surmised that the site’s impressive stone structures were the work of Egyptians, Phoenicians, or even Prester John, the legendary Christian king of lands beyond the Islamic realm. Such Eurocentric misguided and romantic speculation held for nearly 400 years, until the excavations of British archaeologists David Randall-MacIver and Gertrude Caton-Thompson early in this century, which confirmed that the ruins were of African origin.
The largest ancient stone construction south of the Sahara, Great Zimbabwe was built between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries by the ancestors of the Shona, one of Zimbabwe’s many Bantu-speaking groups. The ruins cover nearly 1,800 acres and can be divided into three distinct architectural groupings known as the Hill Complex, the Valley Complex, and the Great Enclosure. At its apogee in the late fourteenth century, Great Zimbabwe may have had as many as 18,000 inhabitants. It was one of some 300 known stone enclosure sites on the Zimbabwe Plateau. In Bantu, zimbabwe means “sacred house” or “ritual seat of a king.” An important trading center and capital of the medieval Zimbabwe state, the city controlled much of interior southeast Africa for nearly two centuries.
Fallacies and distortion of history
In 1890, British imperialist and colonizer Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902) Who conquered a large portion of southern Africa and had the region named after himself. Northern Rhodesia (modern Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe) which came under British control and Rhodes argued that the Great Zimbabwe monuments were built by foreigners. To promote his goal of misrepresenting the origins of Zimbabwe, Rhodes established the Ancient Ruins Company and financed men such as James Theodore Bent, who was sent to Zimbabwe by the British Association of Science, and sponsored by Rhodes. After his investigation Bent concluded in his book, Ruined Cities of Mashonaland (1892), that items found within the Great Zimbabwe complex “proved” that the civilization was not build by local Africans. This was done irrespective of Rhodes having full knowledge of Africa’s Legacy, knowledge which he used to Gain riches from culturally sacred diamond mines in south Africa after getting the indigenous people there to show him their sacred land. This resulted in Debeers diamonds.
In 1902, the British continued with their falsification agenda as British archaeologist Richard Hall was hired to investigate the Great Zimbabwe site. Hall asserted in his work, The Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia (1902), that the civilization was built by “more civilized races” than the Africans. He argued that the last phase of Great Zimbabwe was the transitional and “decadent period,” a time when the foreign builders interbred with local Africans. Hall went out of his way to eliminate archeological evidence which would have proven an indigenous African origin of Great Zimbabwe. He removed about two meters deep of archeological remains, which effectively destroyed the evidence that would have established an indigenous African origin of the site. He condescendingly stated that his goal was to “remove the filth and decadence of Kaffir occupation.”
In 1905, soon after Hall’s destructive activity, British archeologist David Randall-MacIver studied the mud dwellings within the stone enclosures, and he became the first European researcher of the site to assert that the dwellings were “unquestionably African in every detail.” After MacIver’s assertion, which was almost equivalent to blasphemy to the British imperialists, archeologists were banned from the Zimbabwe site for almost 25 years!
Ian Smith was the last major British colonial figure to falsify evidence of Great Zimbabwe’s origin. After Ian Smith became “prime minister” of Southern Rhodesia. He continued the colonial falsification of Great Zimbabwe’s origins by developing a fake history and a policy of making sure that the official guide books for tourists would show images of Africans bowing down to foreign innovators, who allegedly built Great Zimbabwe. It was not until 1980 that the native Zimbabweans overthrew Smith’s minority government and ended the colonial era. In that year, Robert Mugabe became president and the country was renamed “Zimbabwe,” in honor of the Great Zimbabwe civilization of the past.
This distortion of the history of Zimbabwe has had an enduring legacy. The colonial era (1890 - 1980) had a destructive impact on the daily lives of native Zimbabweans. Not only was their heritage stolen, but the best farmland and resources were also taken by British colonists. This 90 years of domination and oppressive colonial rule was fueled by the ideas of Cecil Rhodes, who wanted to colonize the entire African continent and “to paint the [African] map [British] red.”
This legacy has contributed to some of the modern day problems Zimbabwe faces today.
Given the sheer scale of Great Zimbabwe compared to its precursors, archaeologists have been at a loss to explain its sudden appearance on the southern African landscape. Interpretation of the site poses a particular problem because it was stripped of nearly all its in situ cultural material during the nineteenth century by treasure seekers and those who, believing the site to be of foreign construction, wished, in the words of turn-of-the-century excavator Keith M. Hall, “to free it from the filth and decadence of the Kaffir [South African] occupation.”
The abundant grasslands atop the plateau were ideal for cattle grazing, but the poor soil would not have supported agriculture on a scale required to sustain Great Zimbabwe’s burgeoning population, necessitating imports of grain and other staples from distant tributary sites. Moreover, we now know that the plateau’s rich gold deposits, to which the city’s initial prosperity has often been attributed, were not exploited until perhaps a century after its founding. The question posed then is “Why here?” How could such an influential power develop in an area so ill-suited for large-scale human habitation? Could cattle wealth and trade alone have afforded the inhabitants of Great Zimbabwe a superior way of life, or was there something else, a political or religious ideology, that gave them a competitive edge over neighbors and enabled them to harness the manpower necessary for the construction of the site?
In summary do not let people who cannot even comprehend who you are or where you come from define you. You are soo much More, this is the same for everyone irrespective of where your origins lie.
They will not teach you your history because it is laced with things that may cause you to see them in a negative light and it is not in their best interest.