The Odyssey
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Basecamp
Trek Connect
Time Machine

 

Home  
Search  
Teachers
Info
Kids' Zone
Shawn Dispatch

Mystic Fortunes of Great Zimbabwe

Click image for larger view
Hurry up and take the picture.  I'm freezing!
Caption
Abeja and I got to visit the mysterious ruins at Great Zimbabwe, which are over 500 years old. The huge stone walls of the main area are as high as 25 feet tall and have absolutely no corners. Nobody knows for sure who built these buildings and why.

Map of Zimbabwe
The first Europeans who arrived here didn't believe these huge stone buildings were made by Africans because they had never seen anything like it in all of southern Africa. The local tribes rarely built with stone because they lived mostly by hunting and finding plants to eat, so they were always moving around. And huts made of clay and straw were enough to keep them warm in this weather.

But today people think these buildings were built by the Shona people, a group of Africans from this area, who probably learned about stone buildings while trading in far-off lands. It was probably a royal palace.

Click image for larger view
Designed for tourists?
Caption
About 500 years ago, as many as 20,000 people may have lived here. Standing at the top of the highest point of the city, I looked out over the rest of the ruins and try to imagine what it must have been like to be a Shona king standing guard over his kingdom. Even though the ruins are now old, the people here are still very proud of them, and their picture is all over the money and stamps here.

Click image for larger view
These dancers knew the best way to stay warm was to keep moving
Caption
When I tell people I have been to Great Zimbabwe, their eyes and smiles widen - it's a look that says "now maybe you understand my people better, our history and culture is as old as the stones themselves."

A Visit with a Fortune Teller

After leaving the ruins, Abeja and I stopped by a nearby village. We entered one of the larger huts to find a medicine man and a female fortune teller inside. They were both wearing traditional headdresses of black feathers and beaded necklaces which show that they are special people. The medicine man tells us he contacts spirits through his dreams and they tell him how to heal people and which medicines to use.

Click image for larger view
Need advice about your future? Have a bad case of dysentery?
Caption
Abeja and I both had the fortune teller tell us our fortunes. I get mine first.

Without looking at me she snorted something out of a horn. It seemed to have a very powerful effect on her and she started shaking and moaning as if in a great deal of pain. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she waved her arms wildly as if she were fighting some force we can't see.

She began to speak with the spirits, telling my fortune to the medicine man in the Shona language and he translated for me. "From here you will travel to your home and you will have a safe journey. You have a great and strong spirit and will live long and be blessed with as many children as you choose," he said. "She says that your wife will never leave you because if she does she will never find another man as good as you." Well that sounded pretty good to me! Maybe I should believe in this Shona magic!

Click image for larger view
Inside the ancient enclosure
Caption
Then Abeja got her fortune. He told her, "From here you will travel to your home and you will have a safe journey. You have a great and strong spirit and will live long and be blessed with as many children as you choose," he said. "She says that your husband will never leave you because if he does she will never find another woman as good as you."

Hey, her fortune sounded a lot like mine! Well, we are good friends and we work together so I guess it's not too unbelievable that we both have the same fortune... is it?

Shawn
 

Abeja - Rebuilding Zimbabwe: Cooperation Makes Sense

Meet Shawn | Shawn's Archive

Basecamp | Trek Connect | Time Machine

Home | Search | Teacher Zone | Odyssey Info
 
 

Meet Shawn