Zimbabwe – a great success:
The Boundless Southern Africa Expedition’s crossing of Zimbabwe has been a great success, and has more than reached its objectives in terms of linking nature, culture and community.
Community and media events included those in the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area i.e. Sango border post, and four events in the Gonarezhou area, and one at Crook’s Corner where Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa meet.
The traditional event and welcome to the Limpopo-Shase, (now renamed the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area) was delightful. Mapungubwe’s location puts it at the meeting point of Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The Transfrontier Conservation Area links Mapungubwe with Botswana’s Northern Tuli Game Reserve and the Tuli Safari Area of Zimbabwe.
The famous Golden Rhino was a symbol of power of the King of the Mapungubwe people, who inhabited the Limpopo River Valley close to the confluence with the Sashe River around a millennium ago. It was the first southern African kingdom, and derived its power from control of trade with the East Coast and into the Indian Ocean commercial network. This kingdom was the forerunner of the Zimbabwe civilisation and, at its peak, appears to have had 5000 people living around Mapungubwe Hill.
Close to the banks of the Limpopo and west of Beitbridge we had a highly successful day with the Maramani community, which included the handing over of an elephant fence by the Peace Parks Foundation. The crossing of the Sashe and the renaming ceremony at Greater Mapungubwe was attended by the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Management, Francis Nhema.
The expedition re-entered Zimbabwe at Kazungula where we were met on the banks of the Zambezi by councillor Jiyani, the Mayor of Victoria Falls, Edson Chidziya the Transfrontier co-ordinator for Zimbabwe, the Director of Parks Wildlife Management Authority, government delegates and private sector stakeholders.
In Victoria Falls we joined forces with the &Beyond Foundation for a One Net One Life malaria prevention campaign for pregnant mums, and children under the age of five, held outside the Victoria Falls Hospital in Chinotimba.
Our community work in Zimbabwe has included Lifeboard desks, malaria prevention, Rite to Sight spectacles, Life straw water purifiers to beat cholera, Boundless Soccer Challenges, the distribution of Box Libraries and School Art Competitions with the theme of nature, culture and community. The Boundless Soccer Challenge was visited by Bafana Bafana champion Mark Fish who also assisted with community work.
From Victoria Falls the journey took us through the Kazuma Pans National Park, the Matetsi Safari Area, Hwange National Park, Robins Camp, Sinamatele and Main Camp. As always to the communities adjacent to these wildlife areas this included interaction with school kids at the Painted Dog Project, a visit to Dindi school and clinic and a huge community event at Lukose.
Local Zimbabwean media coverage for the expedition has been exceptionally strong and included a team of radio, TV and newspaper journalists who joined the expedition and recorded the community work. Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Management, Francis Nhema also visited and supported the expedition on several occasions.
Our journey is about optimism and using the expedition to assist with Zimbabwe’s recovery by encouraging adventure travellers to follow the Boundless Route and uplift communities as they do so.
And so the expedition reaches its halfway mark. Ahead of us is Zambia, South Eastern Angola, Namibia’s Caprivi, then back into Botswana to complete the Kavango/Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. Then it’s on to the Transfrontier Conservation Areas of Kgalagadi and IAI-IAI’s/Richtersveld to end the Boundless Southern Africa journey on Wednesday 19th August 2009, which will be a full on Namibian presidential event.
The expedition team and everybody involved in the Boundless Southern Africa Expedition are all doing a great job, thanks for the support – we’ll keep you posted.