Video of an Historical Exhibition of Traditional Shona Sculptures by the late Jonathan Matimba

The Trust was instrumental in re-discovering a unique collection of works by the late Jonathan Matimba who was one of the three most famous and influential stone and wood carvers of the 1950s and ‘60s in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. The works are of great significance and of national historical interest. The Trust was proud and privileged to display, for the time ever, these rare early pieces of art for public enjoyment.

Please enjoy a video of the official opening of the Exhibition that took place on 13th August 2018 where Mrs Edone Ann Logan, Chair, welcomed everyone and Dr Jonathan Zilberg, Associate Research Scholar at The Centre of African Studies, University of Illinois, gave an exhilarating talk on the history of Nyanga sculpture.

The Trust would sincerely like to thank Mr Iain McDonald and Ms Shelley Hood for producing this excellent video.

Book Release -The Dragon Lady: The Courtauld Legacy Continues

A visit to a historical National Trust Property called La Rochelle Estate inspired Louisa Treger author of The Lodger (Macmillan 2014) to write a book that has just been published by Jonathan Ball and Bloomsbury Caravel! It’s a work of historical fiction based on the lives of Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia Courtauld who built the unique 108 hectare property in 1951 as a retirement home. The French style tower and house, with Welsh slate roof tiles, is situated in the Imbeza Valley in Penhalonga. It was generously bequeathed to the National Trust in 1972 and one of the best known of the Trust’s properties in Zimbabwe see

La Rochelle Estate

The Dragon Lady tells the extraordinary story of Lady Virginia Courtauld, so called for the exotic tattoo snaking up her leg. From the glamorous Italian Riviera before the Great War to the Art Deco glory of Eltham Palace in the thirties, from the secluded Scottish Highlands to sultry, segregated Rhodesia in the fifties, the narrative spans enormous cultural and social change.

Ostracised by society for being a foreign divorcée at the time of Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson, Ginie and her second husband Sir Stephen Courtauld leave the confines of post-war Britain to forge a new life in Rhodesia, only to find that being progressive liberals during segregation proves dangerous.

Subtly blending fact and fiction, deeply evocative of time and place the story is threaded throughout with intrigue, this is a riveting portrait of a boundary-breaking, extremely colourful and unconventional character, who rejected the submissive role women were expected to play.

In 2018 Lady Virginia was celebrated on International Women’s Day by the International National Trust Organisation, see

Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia

In an interview with the Trust, Louisa explained that she was particularly interested in the personalities and relationships of Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia. She said that she wanted to share such an interesting story and display the Courtaulds’ generosity towards Zimbabwe. She consequently spent time researching thoroughly for the book and interviewed many people who knew the Courtaulds’ personally including some members of the Courtauld family. Louisa spent time at La Rochelle and at their previous home Eltham Palace a royal residence from the 14th to the 16th century and the childhood home of King Henry VIII of Tudor. The Palace in Greenwich, UK is administered English Heritage who manage and conserve over 400 historic buildings and sites in the UK. The Tudorian mansion, acquired by the future Edward II in 1305, was re-designed to the Modernist tastes of Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia Courtauld when they took up residence in the 1930’s, then twenty years later, in the 1950’s they retired in Zimbabwe. Louise studied historical information contained in the Mutare Museum and archives, and worked with English Heritage, The Courtauld Institute and The National Trust of Zimbabwe.

Book launch

The Dragon Lady is available now in all good book stores and on-line from and Amazon. Exciting news for us: it is also being released in South Africa in May 2019 with launches in Johannesburg on 16th May @LoveBooksJozi and at the Franschhoek Literary Festival 17th-19th May.

Other book events are being held in the UK and USA and Louisa will be at them meeting people and personally signing copies of her book.

More exciting news: Louisa is planning to visit Zimbabwe later on this year and The Trust will host an event to celebrate and honor her new book and her dedication for writing it.

The Trust is planning to create three historical documentaries based on the life and legacy of Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia Courtauld and their love for art, culture, music and beauty, but most of all their incredible philanthropic generosity, foresight and empathy.

About Louisa

Louisa Treger, a classical violinist, studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher. She subsequently turned to literature, earning a Ph.D. in English at University College London, where she focused on early-twentieth-century women’s writing and was awarded the West Scholarship and the Rosa Morison Scholarship “for distinguished work in the study of English Language and Literature”. Louisa’s first novel, The Lodger, was published by Macmillan in 2014. She lives in London, but her late mother was South African and Africa is in her bone and marrow.

Louisa Treger

You can tweet Louisa on and visit her on


Here are some stunning reviews of the book including one from our very own Tsitsi Dangarembga , a Zimbabwean Award-winning novelist, filmmaker, gender and cultural activist.

“Louisa Treger’s brilliant second novel is a daring blend of romance, crime and history, and an intelligent exposé of the inherent injustice and consequences of all forms of oppression.”

Tsitsi Dangarembga, author of Nervous Conditions

“Treger has captured the last days of colonial Rhodesia perfectly. It is not just Lady Courtauld’s story, but also the people fighting for the country’s future. And while the book may only focus on a small piece of Zimbabwe’s long complicated history, it does so with emotion and fire.”   Sally Partridge, author of Mine.

“If you like your books to immerse you in a different time and place, you’ll love this.”

Beth Miller, author of The Good Neighbour.

“A remarkable story about the bravery and compassion of a little-known couple at a pivotal time in the history of Zimbabwe. Treger switches elegantly between narrators, time and place, and wears her meticulous research lightly in this fascinating novel.”

Annabel Abbs, author of Frieda: A Novel of the Real Lady Chatterley.

“An evocative, beautifully written story with a mystery at its heart. Clever and compelling I couldn’t wait to find out who shot The Dragon Lady, but at the same time I was so immersed that I didn’t want it to end. Highly recommended”.

Claire Douglas, author of Do Not Disturb.

 “The prose is lyrical, vivid and compelling, whether describing the settings, the characters, or the suspenseful intrigue of the story’s plot. It comes as no surprise to learn of Treger’s deep love for Africa, which, in her own words, is flowing through her blood and marrow.”

Essie Fox, author of The Last Days of Eda Grey.

 “The perfect blend of fact and fiction and a brilliant evocation of a fascinating time and place, told with haunting clarity. A remarkable achievement.”

Rebecca Mascull, author of The Wild Ai.

 “A haunting, evocative novel that explores what it is to be an outsider with its portrayal of a truly remarkable woman. Louisa Treger vividly brings to life both the historical characters of Virginia (Ginie) and Stephen Courtauld, and life in 1950s Rhodesia, in a deeply moving blend of fact and fiction that is intimately personal while painting a broader picture of a divided society.”   Alison Layland, author of Riverflow.

“Louisa Treger brings Lady Virginia Courtauld passionately to life, cleverly blending fact and fiction, history and imagination, as is her forte. The language is gentle and addictive, and the story uncoils beautifully snakelike.”

Louise Beech, author of Call Me Star Girl.



S Waterworth

12th April 2019



Discovery of a Formerly Unknown Modern Zimbabwean Stone Sculptor – Jonathan Matimba

This special exhibition has been extended until Christmas 2018.

‘The Yawn Dog’, ‘The Mighty Eagle’ and ‘Hongwe’s Ponder’ are a few of the fascinating titles given to Jonathan Matimba’s sculptures on display at the Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition Rhodes Museum) at present.  ‘Seed Pod’, ‘Morning Love’ and ‘Flying Dream’ describe some of the modern pieces of work, crafted by our Nyanga and Claremont sculptors, which are also on display, giving an interesting contrast to the onlooker. Most of the modern artists are sons or grandsons of famous sculptors of the last century – Mariga, Manyandure, Takawira, Sande and Chaudiringa, many of whom were brought up in the Nyatate area of Nyanga North, and sold their work locally and overseas.

At the Official Opening of the Exhibition in August 2018, Dr Jonathan Zilberg, Associate Research Scholar at The Centre of African Studies, University of Illinois, gave an exhilarating talk on the history of Nyanga sculpture, mentioning the importance of women such as Miriam Mbwaburi, who sold woven reed mats at the local hotels in the ‘50s. Miriam was encouraged by the Rural Council to establish the Nyanga Craft Village and to invite potters and sculptors to join her.

Dr. Zilberg explained to the audience, which consisted of local folk, sculptors and their families, some important points which make sculptures appealing to buyers.  During the exhibition he spoke with many of the artists, encouraging them and giving helpful advice

Since the exhibition opening Dr Zilberg has compiled a power point presentation entitled:

 Discovery of a  Formerly  Unknown Modern Zimbabwean Stone Sculptor –  Jonathan Matimba (1940 1994)

If you are interested in reading the presentation, you can do so as it is an open access document posted at

Please note:

The opinions provided by the author are not necessarily the opinions expressed by the NTZ.

You Are Invited To Step Back into History: “Zimbabwe Time Line” New Museum Display

By Sharon Waterworth

The Nyanga Rhodes Historical Exhibition museum, a National Trust  property in the Eastern Highlands, is proud to announce its latest project: the opening of a new exhibit entitled “Zimbabwe Time Line” which depicts salient historical events related to Zimbabwe during the period from BC to 1980.

All Council Members participated, each researching a 30-year period, and we now have on display five periods from BC until 1980.

Please click on the link below to read the full article:

Zimtrader Dispatches Issue 39 20 July 2018 Museum Timeline

History in Perpetuity

By Sharon Waterworth

After spending a refreshingly relaxed day in a welcoming atmosphere one can walk to the herbs and spices farm and pick fresh herbs to make yourself a cup of herbal tea or if you prefer, pick a few to garnish your sun downer drinks with.    This new and unique activity is on offer at the newly re-opened La Rochelle Country House and Spa, a magical cross twixt fairy tale castle and French chateau, surrounded by manicured gardens on the edge of verdant forest-cloaked mountains. This luxury country house is an oasis of tranquillity and charm comprising of 108 ha, is one of the best known of the National Trust of Zimbabwe (NTZ) properties situated in the lush, green Imbeza Valley in the eastern border town of Penhalonga, near Mutare. It was renowned in the 1950s and 60s for Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia Courtauld’s lavish and warm hospitality and has long been recognised as one of the most celebrated botanical gardens in Zimbabwe as well as an icon of the Art Deco movement.

La Rochelle is a place of beauty for Zimbabweans to treasure, a heritage the Courtaulds wanted to share with everyone. Today, it’s dedicated management team aims to be the intersection of nature, history, culture and the arts, creating an ambience of holistic wellbeing.

Please click on the links below to read the full article:

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Connect with the Present and the Past

By Sharon Waterworth

Join the many people that visit the unique public display of ancient manuscripts, photographs and other exhibits of interest
relating to Nyanga and persons and events connected with its history and development on display at the Rhodes Nyanga
Historical Museum. The museum is a National Trust of Zimbabwe property. It was built in 1897 by Mr Marks a stonemason
for Cecil John Rhodes and it is located in the Rhodes Nyanga National Park.

On his death in 1902, his Nyanga Estate was bequeathed in trust to the people of Zimbabwe. In May, 1974 the National Trust Zimbabwe acquired the right to occupy the building for the public display of manuscripts, photographs and other exhibits of
interest. Which means the museum celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2014.

Connect with the present and the past as you wander around the fascinating exhibits on show inside a historical building known as Rhodes Stables. Enjoy the memorabilia depicting the life and times of early Zimbabwe, from the Stone Age to modern times together with the art, culture and traditions of this beautiful area.

The Museum is now larger than ever………..

Please click the ink below to read the full article:

Zimtrader Dispatches issue 23 Mar 29 2018 RNHE

Enjoy a Seat with an Amazing View

By Sharon Waterworth

Take a seat and sit above the clouds and birds flying and gaze down from one of the highest points in the land of
Zimbabwe across the central plateau almost a kilometre below. The view is of a land of mystery, of peace and of
extreme beauty and it seems endless.

Where can you find this amazing view? At Worlds View, a National Trust property where from an altitude of 2000
m the escarpment drops 600 m to the plain below. Mr Michael Tucker recently very kindly donated two
hardwood benches which are now the crowning glory of the kopje. The benches were designed and made by
Gary Goss, a local bench craftsman. Sit and eat your picnic whilst soaking up the magnificent view, there are
various picnic tables for your personal use.

Please click the link to read the full article:

Zimtrader Dispatches issue 25 April 13 2018 Worlds View