Having acquired the claims while living in the United Kingdom, Makombe came back in 2008 and visit her site.
“For years I have been doing mining business in gold, chrome and corundum. While living in England I pegged two gold claims at Manda Hills. When I returned home in 2008 I discovered its beauty and decided to venture into tourism,” she said. “The place is not only rich in cultural heritage but is characterised by magnificent caves and rock-paintings by the San people, just like those found at the Matopo Hills.”
Located 50km northeast of Harare along the Mazowe-Guruve highway, Manda Hills covers 1,000 hectares of land.
Makombe, a widow with three sons, decided to change the mining claim into a nine-year renewable lease of the land.
“I realised that it was beneficial for me to preserve the environment and the cultural heritage at for the benefit of future generations and at the same time try to generate some income from tourism,” she said. “Mining would degrade the area destroy the rocks and caves.”
Her major challenges were working capital and invaders. “The place needs a security fence as it is vulnerable to gold panners and pit sand dealers who come and dig big pits, degrading the environment. Apostolic sect members cause deforestation and destroy the ancient rock-paintings by burning wood during their midnight sermons,” she added. Some caves still have granaries used by the Chiweshe clan to store their harvests.
“The hills either derived their name from the bone carved earrings made by the Chiweshe people or a woman who used to dwell in the hills who was named Manda and believed to be a witch and was killed for that,” said Makombe, who needs at least $20,000 to realise her dream.
“I want to use the place to promote local tourism, targeting schools and churches for camping trips while conserving the cultural heritage. “There is need to promote local tourism through targeting school trips so that our future leaders grow up with the sense of tourism as they go for camps and educational visits,” she said.
“The place is very good for meditation and educational purposes. In future I would like to construct lodges, a museum and a restaurant,” she added.
“I have secured an environment impact assessment certificate from the Environment Management Agency and once I get a security fence, I plan to put game animals like zebra, buffalo and springbok on the site.”Post published in: Environment