In an effort to highlight places of interest in countries across the world, their varied culture, economy, and history, The Statesman brings to you a Weekly Focus on countries with which India shares diplomatic ties and friendship. This week’s focus is on Zimbabwe. Know all about the country.
Currency: In place of the Zimbabwean dollar, currencies, including the South African rand, Botswana pula, pound sterling, Indian rupee, euro, Japanese yen, Australian dollar, Chinese yuan and the US dollar are now regularly used.
Ethnic groups: African 99.4% (predominantly Shona; Ndebele is the second largest ethnic group), other 0.4%, unspecified 0.2% (2012 est.)
Languages: Shona (official, most widely spoken), Ndebele (official, second most widely spoken), English (official, traditionally used for official business), 13 minority languages (official, includes Chewa, Chibarwe, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Shangani, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, and Xhosa)
Religions: Protestant 74.8% (includes Apostolic 37.5%, Pentecostal 21.8%, other 15.5%), Roman Catholic 7.3%, other Christian 5.3%, traditional 1.5%, Muslim 0.5%, other 0.1%, none 10.5% (2015 est.)
Food and drink
British colonisation certainly left its mark on Zimbabwe’s food culture, as is clearly shown by the excellent high teas that one will find at many hotels and safari camps. Meat in Zimbabwe is very good and interesting game meats such as warthog and crocodile are readily available in most towns and tourist areas. In the major urban areas a variety of international restaurants are also available, while the local diet includes tasty peanut-based stews, wild mushroom soup and starchy staples.
Zimbabwean markets generally have sumptuous fruit, especially papaya, and good locally-grown vegetables. Beer is never far away, whether it’s European-style lager or the opaque maize beer that is a favourite with many locals. Some of the specialities include Sadza, Game meat, Whawha, Bota, Dovi, Mapopo candy, Mupotohayi and Bilton.
The beginning of Indian presence in Zimbabwe goes back to about 1890, when Indian plantation workers in apartheid South Africa crossed over to the then Southern Rhodesia. At present, the number of Zimbabweans of Indian origin, who are predominantly from the province of Gujarat, is estimated at about 9,000. The community has formed societies on religious lines, though they live in harmony.
This PIO community has mainly engaged itself in retail trade or export-import business, while the younger generations have mostly moved out of the country for better opportunities as professionals. As regards the expatriate Indian community, their number is 500. Some of them are on long-term business/work permits while most are professionals engaged in computer software, accountancy and banking.
Weather and climate
Although located in the tropics, temperate conditions prevail all year, as the climate is moderated by altitude and the inland position of the country. The hot and dry season is from August to October, and the rainy season from November to March. The best months to visit are April to May and August to September. Night-time temperatures can fall below freezing.
Independence Day is celebrated on 18 April, and Heroes Day on 11 August. Celebrations include New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Labour Day, Africa Day, Defence Forces Day, Unity Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
In September/October, there is a festival of traditional song and dance in Harare. The Zimbabwe National Jazz Festival takes place between September and November.
Zimbabwe has, of late, started following “Look-East Policy” and India is now looked upon as an important trading as well as business partner. The frequency of visits by business delegations from Zimbabwe has gone up in the last few years and a probable turn-around in the Zimbabwean economy in the future can open up considerable opportunities for Indian companies in agro-processing, mining, telecommunications, power and pharmaceuticals. Indian public sector companies like Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON), Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES), Water and Power Consultancy Services (WAPCOS) and Telecommunications India Ltd. (TCIL) had a successful history of engagement with Zimbabwe. Kirloskar and Jain Irrigation have supplied pumps and irrigation equipment. Some Indian companies are looking for investments in mining ~ coal, granite, gold and diamonds. India has strong presence in pharmaceutical sector in Zimbabwe and Indian medicines are readily available in the local market. Investments by a few
other Indian companies in Zimbabwe are Surface Investment, Graffax Cotton Pvt. Ltd. , Apollo Tyres, Technofab Engineering Limited, Angelique International Ltd. Delhi, Indure (Private) Ltd., Tata International, Varun Beverages and Jaguar Overseas Limited. The Air Services Agreement between India and Zimbabwe was signed on 19 June, 2014 in Harare.
Indians are granted a Zimbabwe visa at the port of entry on payment of requisite visa fees. Following documents are required: Passport valid for at least six months from date of entry; Return ticket to your country (or enough money to buy one); Sufficient funds to cover stay in Zimbabwe; and Enough blank pages in the passport to fit the required entry visa.
Great Zimbabwe : It is one of Zimbabwe’s ancient archaeological sites, which is believed to be the city constructed by Gokomere culture in the 11th century. Later, this site had a settlement in the 14th century, but is now turned into a ruin. Here some walls can be seen over five metres in height that are not joined by mortars. This property of almost 750 hectare is divided into three groups named Hill Ruins, the Great enclosure and the Valley Ruins. The first group includes several layers of human settlements. The second group has a variety of blocks arranged in regular courses, made up of granite. And the third group is a series of living organisations. It is a best place to visit in Zimbabwe.
Chimanimani Mountains: Chimanimani is actually a park that includes outstanding Chimanimani mountains. The astonishing scenery and immaculate environment of these mountains provides hiking, rock climbing, camping, caves and natural swimming pools. Most of the range has quartzite ridges. The highest point is 2,440 m high. At 70m in height and 16m in girth, a mahogany tree can be visited.
One can also visit Bridal Veil Falls, which is located above the Chimanimani village. Base camps are available for a limited number of visitors. Bulawayo, Matabeleland: The second largest city after Harare and Number one industrial place to visit is Bulawayo.
Bulawayo railway museum, Matobo national park, National history museum, The Nesbit castle, Khami ruins and Chipangali wildlife are some of the places not to miss in Bulawayo. Also called “City of Kings”, it is a multi-cultural city. The city has sub-tropical climate. Other tourist attractions are Mana Pools, Hwange National Park (largest game reserve in Zimbabwe), Gonarezhou National Park, Chinhoyi Caves, Nyanga Mountains (highest peak in Zimbabwe), National Herbarium and Botanical Gardens (Harare), Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba, Vumba and Mutarazi Falls.
Compiled by Kunal Jain ([email protected])