Monday, 4 October 2010




In the beginning the country was known as Manika. It was also referred to as "God's Own Country".

No white man had seen it in its early stages. There were granite boulders piled up on the peaks of the ranges in an extraordinary manner. There were large' low-lying areas where forests were vast, the mighty Baobabs’ grew, and game of all descriptions fed, and tracks where the elephants had left broken down trees and branches in their wake. There were Mountain tops where the clouds rested, and caves where the lions and leopards had their young, and peaks where baboons took up their vantage points and warned their comrades below when danger approached.

Birds, those free spirits, who from their high altitudes could see the whole landscape, witnessed the passing seasons. In certain localities they sew the Msasa in its glory flaming into colours of spring. Then the rains came, the lightning flashed and the thunder rolled, and the trees bowed their heads as the blasts of wind spread through their foliage. The rain poured down and the small, trickling streams and rivers became vast torrents overflowing their banks, and carrying trees in their wake, great branches and carcasses of drowned animals.

Year after year this continued: centuries passed awaiting civilisation. Then generation after generation of people succeeded each other and took possession, and occupied this land, deposing their predecessors by either slaughtering or driving them away. Then came primitive people such as the Bushmen, who had no intention of herding cattle or raising crops, but depended entirely on a hand to mouth existence, shooting game with bows and arrows, and adopted the simple method of living in caves and decorating their abodes with paintings, leaving behind thorn a record of this period of time.

Other relics of the" past which have not been accounted for are the Inyanga fortifications, and the, so called slave pits, the extensive miles and miles of terraces and water furrows, which compare favourably with those of to-day. Then came the seekers after gold who left behind ancient workings. These, according to Persian and Arabian records, dated as far back as 947 and 1060.A.D. Later exploration was carried out by the Portuguese who endeavoured to occupy the country, but the mortality rate from malaria and other diseases was so considerable that after a short period they left for the coast. There is evidence that over a hundred years ago some of these Portuguese explorers lived at Mount Darwin, and other places in which is now North Eastern Mashonaland.

We are aware, according to reliable sources, that the Portuguese claimed that the land of Mon-0-Potapo was rich with gold, and again and again they penetrated into what is known as the remote interior regions of Africa.

Despite their continued efforts the Portuguese met with little permanent success. It was not the El Dorado that experts led them to believe. They were either decimated by disease or massacred by savage tribes, and having made further attempts to colonise the

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interior, had to abandon their undertaking. Only a remnant was left, with Zimbo and Manica the furthest points of their restricted advance. It was only in the eighteenth century that the Portuguese again made attempts to .open up the interior. The first Portuguese pioneer to enter Manicaland was Antonio Fernandes, who discovered an island on the Sabi river, which should be named after him. The site he occupied is where the Hippo Mine old shafts remain. A large section here is enclosed by the river itself, thus making the island. From here, within 20 miles from the Manicaland boundary, the Sabi enters Mozambique territory.

From 1667 until 1897 no further attempts at exploration were made.

Livingstone, who entered the country in 1855, was the first white man to see and record his wonder at the Victoria Falls.

It was during this period that he saw the horrors of slave trading. The Moslem countries increased their purchases, making large inroads into Central Africa, and Arab merchants penetrated into the interior for this reason. We have a clear indication because of flints found near the boundaries of Manicaland at Revue, where a dredger for gold was working. The flints wore proved genuine by the Cape Town Museum as having been used by the slave traders. They fitted a flintlock, which was lacking in this respect.

The slave routes are still in existence as they are' lined by Mango trees, the unfortunate slaves having partaken of the fruits, scattering the seeds as they went. The route evidently passed through Manicaland in the lowveld to the northern part of Inyanga. It is interesting to know that Portuguese half-castes, and even African tribes, participated in this traffic. Slaves were usually secured by a slave stock. This consisted of a heavy forked stick secured around the neck of the slave and locked in position by a long pin. Slave traders often left behind them discards who were too weak to travel, and these were probably devoured by wild animals

A year before Livingstone’s death, in 1872 came Selous, the great hunter and naturalist. He visited Manicaland on several occasions and evidence of his visit to Mount Dombo half way between Rusape and Inyanga was discovered in the following way - a document written in ink. "On the 12th and 14th .of February, 1891 this hill was ascended by F.C. Selous and W.L. Armstrong. Name of Hill, Dombo, Height, 6,700 feet." The record in Selous' own handwriting was found in a small rusty container.

We hear much about raids in those early days in this part of the country, the chief offenders being Gungunyana and afterwards Lobengula. They were not indigenous, but off-shoots of the Zulu tribes who entered from beyond the Limpopo and took possession by routing the local tribes. After establishing themselves they frequently sent marauding parties into adjoining territories, including what was then known as Manicaland, killing indiscriminately, seizing cattle, burning down huts, destroying crops, and carrying off men and women of good physique who would be of use to them. The molested and terror-stricken tribes fled, and took to the granite hills and fortified themselves, making use of caves whenever possible to store their grain in mud bins away and out of sight of the savage intruders.

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So it was when the first white men arrived they found a very sparse remnant, their numbers greatly depleted and steeped in witchcraft, hiding themselves, terrified of newcomers who might treat them as Lobengula's savage hordes had done.

End of Chapter

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Recompiled, by Eddy Norris, from a copy of the booklet made available by Neill Storey. Thanks Neill.

The recompilation was done for no or intended financial gain but rather to record the memories of Rhodesia.

The family of the author have given permission for ORAFs to load this booklet onto the Internet.
Thanks top the family and special thanks to Heather Curran.

Thanks to
Paul Norris for the ISP sponsorship.
Paul Mroz for the image hosting sponsorship.
Robb Ellis for his assistance.

Should you wish to contact Eddy Norris please mail him


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