Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Big Five Cities

The five big cities of Zimbabwe are just as influential and famous as the big-five beasts of tourist haven Zimbabwe. They are Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, and Masvingo.

HARARE: The Lion, King of the National Jungle
Harare (formerly Salisbury) is the capital of Zimbabwe, was founded in 1890, then renamed to Harare in 1982, is the centre of attraction world over, as it houses issues, high and low, in the world of mankind. Just as the Lion is no stranger to controversy, rumours, speculation, and animosity, the city continuous to baffle everyone world over – socio-economically.

It has an estimated population of 1,600,000, with 2,800,000 in its metropolitan area (2006). Rural urban migration is on the rise, with the biggest recipient of rural urbanised folk being Harare; families that move into the markets and streets of the city in search of greener pastures. The lion is known for migrating to make residence near waterholes or reservoirs, in search of a haven of prey so that they do not starve.

Administratively, Harare is an independent city equivalent to a province. It is Zimbabwe's largest city and it is the administrative, commercial, and communications centre. The city is a trade centre for tobacco, maize, cotton, and citrus fruits. Harare is situated at an elevation of 1483 metres (4865 feet) and its climate falls into the warm temperate category. The city is surely the highest on the national food chain as all activities of the nation are determined and influenced by Harare, just as the lion is a stronghold on the Savannah jungle, per se’.

It is said that a wounded lion has the ability to launch more ferocious attacks to its enemies than a healthy lion, as exhibited in the movie Ghost and the Darkness, when a wounded lion kept fighting even without the strength of its three legs. It kept moving using one leg and its stomach. This is true of Harare, as its trade, social life, and people keep bettering their optimism, continuing in trade, commerce, celebration, and advancement. Some of this lion-like attibutes are exhibited in the Stock markets, citizens turned entrepreneurs – many rising from obscurity to significance over the past ten years. Not even a seemingly worsening ten-year wound is able to bring the economic powerhouse to a halt, as life in Harare continuously sets new records unimaginable to mankind world over.

BULAWAYO: The Land of Ndlovu
It is no coincidence that Peter Ndlovu happened to rise from Bulawayo, and surnamed after the majestic Elephant of Zimbabwe, it is no wonder that the elephant is at the top of the coat of arms of the city.

Bulawayo is the second largest city in Zimbabwe after the capital city, Harare. Bulawayo is a city rich in cultural history and a must visit for anyone coming to Zimbabwe. It is one of the oldest and historically most important of Zimbabwe's towns. Certainly one cannot say that they have experienced the full range of Zimbabwe's diversity if they have not been to this bustling city in the southern ­western part of the country of Zimbabwe. Bulawayo is one of the country's most attractive cities and a major transport hub for Southern Africa.

Bulawayo was the capital of the Ndebele State when Lobengula, son of the King Mzilikazi, ascended to the throne. Lobengula’s initial royal town, established in 1872, was located about 14 miles of the present day city, on a ridge dominated by the Thabas Inyoka - “hill of serpents”. This town has been rebuilt and is known as “old Bulawayo”. Lobengula eventually moved his royal town, and the locality of the modern Bulawayo city was chosen by King Lobengula and he also named his royal town Bulawayo, which is the Ndebele word for “the place of slaughter”, in recognition of an armed struggle that Lobengula was involved in when he ascended to the throne, i.e. “He was being opposed and persecuted by his opponents- and he came out victorious”.

A symbol of Pride, Strength, Majesty, and Stability, Bulawayo is the elephant of Zimbabwe, just as equal in kingship as the lion in majestic ability, as Harare. Side by side, the lion and the elephant have formed the foundations of economics, society, spirituality, and politics, as both opinions and involvement matter in all spheres of the nation.

GWERU: Renown for its Rawhide shoes and meat, as the Buffalo
Gweru (formerly Gwelo) is a city near the centre of Zimbabwe. It has a population of about 137,000 (2002), making it the third largest city in the nation. Gweru is the capital of the Midlands province. Gweru was founded in 1894 by Dr. Leander Starr Jameson. It became a municipality in 1914 and achieved city status in 1971. The name changed from Gwelo to Gweru in 1982.

It is also home to Thornhill Air Base, an airforce garrison, the Zimbabwe Military Museum and the Antelope Game Park. The Nalatale and Danangombe archaeological enclosures lie nearby, the first known for its patterned brickwork, the second for its Portuguese remains.

The City of Progress is home to renowned for its industries which include Zimbabwe Alloys, a chrome smelting plant, and Bata Shoe Company (established in 1939). Both are leading employers in Gweru. Gweru is situated in one of Zimbabwe's finest cattle rearing areas and surrounding agricultural activity revolves around the cattle industry (both beef and dairy).

Bata have their own tanning plant for cattle hides and the Cold Storage Commission CSC have an abattoir in Gweru. Flowers are also grown in the area for the export market and Zimbabwe's largest distiller, Afdis, have extensive vineyards in Gweru for the production of wine. Mining is also prevalent, mainly chromite ore from rich deposits along the Great Dyke to the East of Gweru.

MUTARE: The Eloquent Leopard of Zimbabwe
Mutare (known as Umtali until 1982) is the fourth largest city in Zimbabwe, with a population of approximately 189,000. It is the capital of Manicaland province. Mutare (known as Umtali until 1982) is the fourth largest city in Zimbabwe, with a population of approximately 189,000. It is the capital of Manicaland province.

The word mutare means "a piece of metal". The name was probably given to the river as a result of gold being discovered in the Penhalonga valley through which the Mutare River runs. In 1891 the location was moved to a site now known as Old Mutare, about 14 km north of the city centre.

The town lies north of the Bvumba Mountains and south of the Imbeza Valley. It is home to the Mutare Museum, the Utopia House Museum dedicated to Kingsley Fairbridge, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Murahwa Hill, known for its rock paintings and Iron Age village, Cross Kopje with a memorial to Zimbabweans and Mozambiqueans killed in World War I and a nature reserve.

People who come from Mutare or Manicaland, are well known in Zimbabwe for their eloquence in speech, integrity, and modest behaviour, as depicted in folktales and jokes about them. Their province is host to the majestic and eloquent leopard, the lofty beast amongst the big five. Mutare is esteemed, has in recent years been the centre of controversy for its high-grade diamond, popularly known as ngoda in the local dialect Chimanyika.

MASVINGO: as stubborn a people as the Rhinoceros
The Rhinoceros is known as the most stubborn of the big-five beasts, with untameable rages of anger, yet one of the wisest as it is also known for stamping out fires as and when they occur in the wilderness. Masvingo is home to such a proud, wise and stubborn people – Vakaranga, with their horn being the Great Zimbabwe, home of the natives of the land of Zimbabwe – the Mutapa Empire.

Masvingo is a town in south-eastern Zimbabwe and the capital of Masvingo Province. Known as Fort Victoria until 1982, when its name was briefly changed to Nyanda. Within a few months its name was again changed to Masvingo when it was discovered that Nyanda did not translate very well across dialects. It is the oldest colonial settlement in Zimbabwe, and grew up around the encampment established in 1890 by the Pioneer Column en route to their eventual destination, Salisbury.

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