Annual Report: April 2017 to March 2018

The mountain experienced a very wet start to 2017, with rainfall for the season (to March 2017) of over 1700mm and all three Connemara Lakes are again full and spilling furiously.  The torrential rains  flooded the car park – it dried out gradually and reopened after some filling and levelling.  The 2m wide x 30m long contour ridge that we dug at the base of Nyamutoro (World’s View Mountain) thankfully, prevented a more serious situation.

In preparation for the 2018 rains extensive ground-work was undertaken to prevent any further flooding.  Pits and trenches  were dug and backfilled to channel the rainwater away from the car park and down to the western slopes of the site.  The rains brought on an abundance of wild flowers and the site is looking stunning.

But, this is in stark contrast to the land outside the fence, where there is evidence of the damage and degradation caused by the cattle that are driven up the mountain to graze.  It is our intention to, once again, petition the powers that be, to stop these cattle coming up the mountain and left unattended night and day. Up to now our complaints and those of the Board of Little Connemara have not been heard.  The loss of the flora, fauna and birdlife that once inhabited the area is also of great concern: this due 100% to not only the overgrazing by cattle but also the ‘outsiders’ who come with their packs of hunting dogs, under the pretence of ‘looking for their cattle’, meanwhile they are carrying axes, clubs and catapults.

The Little Connemara Estate was declared a bird and wildlife sanctuary some years ago but all the land on the outside of the circular drive that surrounds the Connemara Lakes was acquired by Government in 2002 for eco-tourism.  The conservation of the area has been totally neglected since then.  Snares are constantly being found and removed by walkers and the Connemara residents. The firebreaks are not maintained and some of the land has been given over to potato growers who have exasperated the situation by ploughing and interfering with the natural springs that occur on the areas designated to them.

A large landslide beneath the World’s View toposcope occurred on a path made by the cattle coming up the eastern slopes. Ground cover being reduced through localised overgrazing and trampling has greatly increased the risk of further landslides due to the soil losing the ability to ‘hold’.  There are some further sections that look like they may ‘go’ as well, as some large ‘cracks’ in the soil are apparent adjacent to the original fall. The upper slopes leading to the summit of Nyamutoro and some parts of the lower fenced area of the site are constantly being cleared of pine and other invasive species. It is an on-going exercise to keep on top of this problem but Matirina with chainsaw and the caretakers with machetes have put paid to hundreds of these invaders and the larger trees have been felled and cross cut as firewood for use in the caretakers’ wood stove.

Renovations and extensions to the staff housing reached completion mid-year.  It was a busy time with builders, carpenters and plumbers all working on site at the same time.  The old ‘long drop’ was replaced with a flush toilet and new shower area created so consequently new piping had to be laid and a new soak away dug at the bottom of the caretakers’ garden.  A large French drain was laid at the top of the vegetable garden to take the grey water and help to keep their vegetables watered during the dry season.   Instead of using the local stone we decided to do the extensions in brick/plaster to stay in keeping with the original structure.  This has worked well and resulted in a neat and handsome little building.  An additional window has been fitted to the back bedroom.

The new veranda is sheltered by a shoulder high wall to give protection from the wind and a second wood burning stove installed.  All internal rooms have been fitted with ceiling boards to stop condensation forming and the old inside kitchen has been turned into a sitting room.  Luke and Arthur are delighted with their new home and have asked me to convey their thanks to the National Trust for upgrading their accommodation. They both worked over and above their normal hours to assist in this project and we are grateful to have such dedicated staff in our service.

A new 35m length of picket fencing replaced the old and rotting one along the road boundary which has enhanced that aspect tremendously. A pole fence has been constructed on the inner boundary, hedging planted and a ‘Staff Only’ sign put on the gate.

For the second consecutive year, yet another of our stone gate posts was ‘taken out’ by a bus, followed by an angry bull who ripped the wooden entrance gate into several pieces. Fortunately he was spotted and escorted off the property with his many lady friends before too much damage was done to the gardens!

The 4th picnic table and benches have been completed and an upgrade to their surrounds has been achieved by new planting of azaleas and a bit of further landscaping on the terrace below.  It is rewarding to see the fruits of our labours coming to bear at last, the gardens are full of interesting beds that have now filled out and provide an array of different flowers throughout the seasons, although not all the plants are of an indigenous nature, they provide colour and interest for our many visitors.

There was a drop off in visitors from September due to the ‘cash crisis’ and fear of harassment by police at road blocks.  However, since mid-November this has greatly improved and we have introduced an Ecocash system that works well.

June Weeks continues to bring us aloe cuttings which are being planted along the escarpment.  An old cattle track coming up the eastern slopes (now fenced), has caused considerable erosion, so to combat this a large semi-circular stairway using local stone, has been constructed.  This will make a great spot for large groups wanting to picnic and enjoy the scenery.

A very successful ‘ Carols by Sunset’ was arranged on Christmas eve by Lindsay Lees May, manageress at Little Connemara and Pam and Dave Lee and family, residents of the estate.  Word sheets and Christmas pies were handed out, the rain held off and ‘the hills were alive with the sound of music’.

In 2018 the professional services of Mr Jakob Raath to undertake an ecological study of the World’s View area was commissioned.  The overall aim is to have a database of ecological resources relevant to the area for posterity as well as being an aid in planning and making future recommendations for our site and environs.

Phase I, the pilot study, was completed in January. Jakob returned to site to complete Phase II mid March. The aims of Phase II were to expand on the activities begun earlier as well as collect plants not seen flowering at the time of Phase I.  New areas of the NTZ environs were sampled and more data about the overall environmental health of the area were gathered.

In addition, an extra 2 volunteer days were spent removing the vegetation from the ruins above the car park to expose the sections of walling for future archaeological work. The removal of the vegetation was done in a methodical manner, taking care to cause minimal impact.  We had no idea of the extent of these ‘on-site’ ruins until  Jacob, with the help of Matirina and Luke, discovered that the ruins  are much more extensive than first thought.  We look forward to the return of Rob Burrett to take his archaeological study further.

More of Jacob’s finding on the adjacent land to the south of the World’s View site, reveal  that in this unique area a potential ecological disaster is in the making. Steps are being taken to have this area placed under protection.

As recommended by Rob Burrett, a sign at the start of the path leading to the summit has been placed to make climbers aware of the conditons that may await them.  Mist can decende in minutes so it is adviseable to keep to the footpath and to keep a watchful eye for baboon activity.

Our little ‘Plant Sales’ section is doing well and visitors are delighted to be able to buy plants that they can see in flower in our gardens.  We continue to support Valhalla Nursery in Juliasdale for the azaleas and hydrangeas and Mrs Dalrae Bailey, also of Juliasdale, has become a recent supplier of well established protea plants.

Landscaping and planting the kopje to the south of the toposcope is complete and the first flowering of the Kirstenbosch proteas graced the kopje.  Mr Michael Tucker kindly donated two hardwood benches which were commissioned.   We are immensely grateful for this donation and the benches will be the crowning glory of the kopje.

The following are some quote from our visitor’s book which are worthy of mention ………

I’m going to die a happy man – even more proud to be Zimbabwean after visiting this place with my family. Thanks to the hardworking guys for maintaining this awesome place”’ Lional Takawira, Guildord, Surrey, UK.

This is one of the few places in Zimbabwe still intact and looking lovely as always”. Chervonna Gororo, Harare.

“A real gem, the best kept place in Zimbabwe”. Kate Hurst, Stellenbosch, RSA

A return after more than 20 years and I really loved the re-visitation. More beautiful and extraordinary than I remember. Thank you for keeping it well”. Gynthia Baloyi, Ohio, USA.

We haven’t been to World’s View in years and have been amazed at the beauty and tidiness. The toilets must be the most beautiful and functional in Zimbabwe”.  Snick Nkomo, Harare.

One can see God’s hand at work here’. ……….  Someone has kindly added in bold black capitals – ‘with a little help from NTZ!’

 

Gill Honeyman

World’s View

March 2018

 

 

 

The NTZ wins the International National Trust Organisation Small Grants Programe Award

In 2014 the NTZ decided to undertake an innovative, experimental pilot project for school children to “re-discover their living traditions and identify their cultural roots”. The project focused on heritage education management and based on community participation in terms of their time and materials and provided capacity building for school teachers. A copy of “The Heritage Education Toolkit” used by heritage clubs in secondary schools was kindly given to the NTZ by the Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda.

The project was drawn up following the guidelines from Uganda, but adapting the details to the Zimbabwean context. The project was championed by Mrs Edone Ann Logan Chairperson of the Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition (RNHE). 132 children and 6 teachers, from a secondary school and 2 primary schools, each of which run a Heritage Club, were involved in the project which was the recipient of an International National Trust Organisation (INTO) Small Grants Programme (SGP) fund for which the NTZ was truly appreciative.

The SGP is designed to provide small scale but catalytic support for the international family of INTO member organizations, working on heritage management and related community-led cultural programs.  The primary purpose of the SGP is to build capacity and strengthen governance, membership recruitment and sustainability of INTO members.

The Project gave the RNHE and the NTZ the opportunity of raising public awareness to the value of cultural heritage and the study of the unique prehistory of the area was incorporated into the history and heritage curriculums.  Training guides for the schools involved in the programme were compiled and a display of items/pictures and artifacts took place at the RNHE.

The NTZ now has a proven blueprint for cultural heritage education management that can be replicated in other schools countrywide.  We have seen that schools are keen to encourage the pupils to take an active part in Museum research and displays. We encouraged schools to visit heritage sites in the area and experience hands-on traditional crafts, and most importantly, research their own family histories, collect stories from their grandparents, and find their own identities within their ethnic groups.

We would like to thank Mr W Dhlandhlara of the SOLON Foundation who supported the project and very generously provided funds for the transportation of the school children to the activities and funding the final traditional meal. SOLON also provided each school in the area (60) with a copy of Robert Soper’s ”Terrace Builders of Nyanga”, and the Prehistory Society of Zimbabwe followed by donating Rob Burrett’s “Shadows of our Ancestors” to each school.

The 17th International Conference of National Trust (ICNT) was recently held in Bali and the opportunity to celebrate and review the impact of the INTO SGP was undertaken.  As a past recipient of the SPG we were invited to submit our project into the SGP competition.

Our entry was displayed at the SGP Success Booth set up at the conference to show each project and request each visitor to the Booth to rate the “”Best SGP-supported Project”” from among all previous winners over the past 3 years, rating the Best with a single token vote.

On the final day of the conference (Friday, 15 September 2017) Dame Fiona Reynolds, the INTO Chairman, announced that the NTZ had won the competition!  With over 130 delegates from 30 countries at the conference, including three Executive Council members from the NTZ, we were very proud and excited to have showcased the work that we do in Zimbabwe on a global platform.  Congratulation’s go to Edone Ann Logan and to all her committee members for implementing the project.

David Scott, NTZ Chair accepting the prize from Dame Fiona Reynolds

 

World’s View Report – December 2016

With grateful thanks to Gill Honeyman and her wonderful little team up at Worlds View, for all the work you all do there, making the site most enjoyable and much appreciated!
Gill’s report follows:-

An all-time, record breaking month for the View with over 1500 visitors, mostly over the festive season – 300 visitors on Christmas Day, 200 on Boxing Day and 250 over New Year.
The rains have been extremely heavy with torrential downpours and due to the volume of traffic coming onto site the parking area has been turned into a quagmire.
We have dug a 2m wide contour ridge at the base of Nyamutoro (to the rear of the sculptor’s gazebo) which has diverted most of the run-off from the mountain and hopefully we shall now be able to restore our once beautifully lawned parking area.

We still face serious problems at the entrance gate as the culvert was removed by Nyanga Rural Council when they graded the road in 2015 and there is just nowhere for the run-off from the road to go. We battle daily to remove the red soil/mud collecting at the gate and have opened new mitre drains to divert the water down into the lakes. The Rural Council will be contacted in the new year.
We are grateful to the Stead Family from Connemara (Plot No 41) who organised a ‘Carols by Sunset’ on Christmas Eve, the grandchildren playing flute, trumpet and sax. ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ will never be the same again! The rain held off and although our numbers were small it was an extremely enjoyable evening and hopefully next year, with better advertising, attendance will be higher.

The Hydrangeas have been magnificent, as they always are at this time of year, and we have had a lot of enquiries from our visitors as to where they could purchase these plants. An approach was made to Valhallah Nursery in Juliasdale who specialise in hydrangea and azalea and a mutually beneficial agreement was reached. We now have a plant sales area and sales are going really well, after only 2 weeks we are in profit by $83. We have since decided to stock other seasonal plants that grow on site and we are sure that our ‘Plant Sale’ section will continue to do well.

We have purchased some more lovely books for our small library and they have been very well received and read by visitors, mainly those taking shelter in the gallery when it rains. A lawnmower has also been purchased so we no longer have to borrow from No 12. Strimmer repairs continue!
Our ‘sign writer’ has been busy and painted a number of new metal signs: ‘NO FIRES’, ‘PLEASE TAKE FOOD WASTE HOME – BEWARE BABOONS!’, and others that will help visitors find their way around more easily.
Picnic table number four is near completion and the first three have been commissioned. All constructed from local stone and fitting in well with the natural surroundings.

Visitors enjoying sundowners at one of the new picnic tables.
Plans have been drawn for the extension and refurbishment of the staff accommodation block. It is our intention to build on another room to accommodate caretaker No. 2 and to completely refurbish the toilet and shower room. A covered courtyard will also be incorporated and a wood burning stove purchased to upgrade the kitchen facilities. Some roof repairs to the existing building are required and repairs and repainting to existing walls – inside and out. Although we expect a seasonal decline in the number of visitors over the next few months we should still have enough in the kitty to take us to roof height, until the Easter rush of guests.
The art gallery is attracting much interest and most visitors are surprised and impressed to find an art gallery on the top of a mountain! We even received an approach from an artist from Harare who enquired if he could hold an exhibition of his own work in the gallery. Our very grateful thanks go to Val Cameron of Juliasdale for her donation of a large pastel of a scene in the Fox Rock area and a smaller one of wild flowers. Val is a professional and very accomplished artist and we are extremely proud to have her work in our collection. They are presently in Harare being framed. Our thanks also to Cherrie Stead for two beautiful water colours that she has donated, they have been framed and now grace the gallery walls as part of our permanent collection. We are still encouraging local Nyanga artists to bring us their work for display/sale. One painting was sold in December with a 10% commission being paid to WV.
The visitors book continues to be a joy to read, many compliments about the staff and their friendly and welcoming reception, the well maintained grounds, the toilet facilities and of course our magnificent scenery. A visitor from Scotland wrote ‘Thanks to the people who donated this land, developed this land and now lovingly maintain it. Without you this place would not exist. A real gem on planet earth. The people of Zimbabwe should be proud of you all. Well done the National Trust of Zimbabwe’.
We still await a visit from Rob Burrett who will be able to give us advice on recently found ruins. We are anxious to promote the area using these easily accessible sites not only as an added attraction, but to emphasise the cultural history of this region. We appreciate the problems Rob faces with financing such a visit and the limitations on his valuable time, perhaps if there is someone else who is equally qualified and able to make the trip it would be most beneficial to get their advice sooner than later. Its over two years since we found the ruins and need to get this project moving. Any ideas?
My personal thanks to Matirina, who took leave from his job to be on site throughout the busy festive season, keeping everything running smoothly, efficiently and profitably, and to Luke and Arthur for the tremendous amount of work they put in keeping the site neat and clean as well as attending to our many visitors and …….. collecting the money!

 

Worlds View – Spirit of Place Statement

Sit above the clouds and birds flying and gaze down from one of the highest points in the land of Zimbabwe (approx 2,300 metres), 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. As you gaze across the landscape spreading out in all directions beneath you, imagine a time before time when no human being was here. Move on through history to think of the earliest inhabitants of our beautiful country, the ‘Bushmen’, living life off the abundance of nature in surely what must easily be one of the most beautiful landmarks of Zimbabwe.
Today the distant huts, hills and hamlets are bright and baked in the midday heat, then fade as the setting sun behind them throws its blue dusty shadows as it journeys to lands to the west when lights begin to twinkle and the chill of the highvelt evening, and the ever present wind sighing through the wattles and pines around you sound like the sea but you are in a land locked country.
Your eyes are overwhelmed by beauty at every turn, you tread on the land of forgotten peoples that possibly inhabited the area in the 14th and 15th centuries, you can feel their ancestors and see the cultural history in the forts, stone walls, pit structures and square kilometres of massive terraces: all beautifully crafted and utterly intriguing. Everywhere. But built by whom? How? For what: Agriculture? Slave enclosures? Livestock protection? Self defence? Mining?
All these have stood. And fallen. Only one thing is certain, and that is that these questions are not easily answered, and your favourite pet theory is as likely as any other.
As you climb down into the valley in the morning freshness, limbs quivering with exertion and great lungful’s of fresh mountain air drink from cooling streams, feel the cooling breeze dry the sweat on your back and feel the pulse of primal life quicken in your ears and veins.

Update August 2016

On the 23rd April 2016, the members at Worlds View, Connemara and Nyanga, together with members of the Executive Committee from Harare, met at Worlds View to inaugurate the newly built little Art Gallery housing an exhibition of landscapes and floral scenes by local artists, toilet block and newly landscaped garden at the site. The cutting of the ribbon was done by our Chairman’s lovely wife, Shirley Scott and drinks and snacks were enjoyed by all in the bright sunshine outside the art gallery – now named the “Gill Honeyman Gallery”, after Gill, who is the Chairman of Worlds View and a resident at Worlds View who does an amazing job of landscaping the area and propagating plants, together with her very knowledgeable gardener Matinara. The event was followed by a delicious lunch with the local members at Gill’s home, set in the natural and indigenous landscape from which she has created a most delightful garden.
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The newly inaugurated GILL HONEYMAN ART GALLERY

The newly inaugurated GILL HONEYMAN ART GALLERY

The newly inaugurated GILL HONEYMAN ART GALLERY


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The new toilet block at Worlds View

The new toilet block at Worlds View

Our Chairman, David Scott with Gill Honeyman

Our Chairman, David Scott with Gill Honeyman