Budget Travel: Tour of Domboshava

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As I planned to depart for Domboshava in mid-December, my mind picture lingered on when i last visited it in 1997, then as a 12 year old kid. The persistent thought was on how I had lost balance, slipped and hit my head on a rock surface while sliding on my feet down the steep, soapy and slippery slope of flowing water on an outlaying rock. This was a common game for rural Domboshava kids, sliding down the sloppy, soapy and watery rock surfaces either on their naked buttocks or (for the daring ones) on feet and I, an urban novice had joined in the frenzy of rural accustomed kids only to find myself with partial amnesia a few moments later. All tourists to Domboshava are urged never to try this either in Domboshava or at home. Driven by that melancholic nostalgia, I wanted to revisit the place to relive the pleasures that had been disrupted by this childhood accident.

The directions are pretty basic. One Drives eastward along Samora Machel Avenue and then turns left into Seventh Street, past the Presidential Residence, better known as State House in Zimbabwe and it’s a straight stretch right into Domboshava. I remembered, as I drove past State House, how just a few weeks back this now deserted, sacred and well-guarded place had been thronged or rather mobbed by over a million people who peacefully demonstrated against the then President Mugabe leading to his resignation.

The drive was so smooth, no potholes, no police roadblocks but the road was however surprisingly narrow. Overtaking is certainly a risky undertaking along this road. There was actually a road-sign prohibiting overtaking in the area just past Borrowdale and as I drove on, the leafy suburb gives way to Hatcliffe a more populous high density community. The transition was however sudden, from the lush and spacious Borrowdale properties into the congested Hatcliffe households.
It was just a 3 minute drive, at most, to cross the Hatcliffe suburb at about 60kms/hr owing to the not so friendly road. Thereafter I drove past a road grid that separated Hatcliffe from Domboshava communal lands. What quickly and worryingly struck my curious eye was how the once sparsely populated natural beauty; Domboshava had been turned into another high density suburb of Harare. So packed were the homesteads that one would be forgiven for confusing it to Mbare the oldest and most populous residential township of Harare.

Past the grid, and now within the Domboshava community, I drove on and the road was still ok by Zimbabwean standards. I drove further into Domboshava past one business centre known as Mverechena. The centre looked so ghetto Harare in every aspect of the word; I did not let that deter me from going on. I drove on and just about 3kms after Mverechena business centre, there it was; the National Museums & Monuments logo and the sign, it directed cars to turn right into the famous Domboshava Caves and Mountains. My earlier enquiries had advised me that it would cost me $3 per person to climb Domboshava Mountain and view the caves. This is not what I wanted, so I drove on and got to the next business centre called, “Showgrounds” although I did not see any physical structure or even an opening to justify the name of the centre. Still congested, mountains were partially swallowed by the populous man-made structures, stealing the scenic views of Domboshava of old; still I drive on past Showgrounds. Now the road gets really rugged for three to five kilometres.

My odometer shows me I have travelled 38kms so far. I tell myself that I won’t drive beyond 50kms. Past the potholed stretch, the road meanders down the slope into a valley; settlements become so sparsed that the natural beauty of Domboshava beckons, greeting me with a fresh, crisp, cool and relaxing air breeze. I look to my right and see a beautiful mountain range and at that moment I decide not to drive on. I drive off the road on to the side road, a safe distance away from the passing vehicles and grab my backpack and lock my cars doors and embark on mountain climbing.

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I ask a passer-by teenage boy the name of the place I was, he tells me the area is called Sasa in Domboshava Communal lands. He also tells me that the beautiful mountain range is called Ngomakurira Mountains; the name somehow rings a bell. Upon further enquiries the boy directs me to a closer mountain and advises that I will have a better view of the Ngomakurira Mountains, I do not question and embarked on my climb and I couldn’t agree more with the boy upon reaching the summit of the mountain.

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I spent next 3 hours of the day enjoying the peace, quiet and tranquil of Domboshava while enjoying the juicy Wild Loquats (an indigenous fruit with a tender brown skin covering the thick yellow tasty fluid found in abundance in Domboshava). That was my lunch. Took a sample of pictures with Ngomakurira in the background and later visited the area of my childhood accident. To my surprise it was dry, no water flowing for me to indulge in another skid. After enjoying the three hour stay in Domboshava with my adventure partner and wife Pamela, I drove back to Harare. So for just $20 fuel to and fro Domboshava, I comfortably enjoyed a December holiday gate-away on a Zimbabwean civil servant pay cheque.

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Speech Delivery: Spare A Thought For The Writer

Every speech writer’s wish is to have an eloquent, articulate and audacious person read their speech.  As a Speech Writer myself, I have always found joy, satisfaction and professional fulfillment when someone with vivid stage presence and oratory tact reads my speeches.  I quickly think of how my boss and former Kwekwe Polytechnic Principal Mr J.C Mbudzi, described in one media story as a person ‘with a towering personality’, would chew away words in speeches with breath-taking exuberance in a way that always massages my ego. I always found myself unconsciously smile with pride as I attentively followed their speeches.

Of note is the fact that speeches are usually read at festive and cheerful occasions where many would prefer nothing but fun.  Speeches usually steal away that fun, hence the need of preparing a good speech and equally important; having a good speech presenter. Fully aware of the audiences’ dislike for speeches more often than not, Speech Writers have a tendency of throwing in one or two mischievous quotes or add some deliberate tongue twisting verbosity just to spice up things a little. A good Speech Presenter/Reader can take advantage of these writers’ techniques to captivate the audience’s attention right to the end of the speech using an articulate and thunderous voice delivery, synonymous with good public speakers.

Conversely, timid speech readers usually have shaky and ambiguous voices that are so watered down that drive audiences to fidget, whisper or even take the opportunity to visit the rooms of convenience.

It is in this vein that I imagine how much George Charamba (Zimbabwe’s Former President’s Press Secretary) would have enjoyed as the former President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe so articulately read his speeches with that distinct Zimbo-British accent of his. What would catch my attention the most was the introduction to his speeches.

First, there would be those 15 seconds or so of silence, (an austere, awe inspiring and dignified wait that rose audience anticipation and curiosity); followed by a distant sound of shuffling papers and finally, the much awaited cracking voice beams. . .

  • “Cde E.D Mnangagwa & Amai (what struck me the most is the lackadaisical dragging of the word Amai)
  • Cde Phelekezela Mphoko & Amai (and the deliberate pause after every salutation, which I suspect was done for effect if not, then it could have been an consequence of age, but all the same it was effective in captivating the audience attention or if I’m to speak for myself, it kept me glued to the TV Screen).
  • Speaker of the House of Assembly
  • Our Service Chiefs here present (as the camera zooms in on the stern faced military men with medals dangling on the left side of their uniforms)
  • Members of the Diplomatic Corps
  • Ladies & Gentlemen
  • Cdes & Friends” (and after the final salutation, then the thunderous voice ensues with that familiar polished English accent which I have no doubt is an envy of many)

“I feel very humbled to . . .”

This is the time that I wish i was the videographer and turn the camera towards George Charamba and capture the expected expression of joy on his face as the old man read out the speech with a natural eloquence and exuberance. And this feeling marks the climax in the satisfaction of every speech writer.

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