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55 Chapter 4 Historic Buildings, Sustainability and Colonial Heritage in Zimbabwe Munyaradzi Mawere & Tapuwa R. Mubaya Introduction During the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries Britain became one of the majestic nations, a dominating imperialistic power that for political, socio-economic and religious reasons conquered vast territories and resources (see also Anckar 2012) in distant areas. In Africa, colonialism is a shared experience given that almost the entire continent was at one time subdued and cowed by imperial countries of Europe (Mawere 2014). Due to its treasury and diversified cultural and natural resource base, Southern Africa became one of the targeted regions that were affected by the inevitable tide of colonialism. Historically, the year 1890 marked a turning point in the history of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). “Rhodesia” was Zimbabwe’s colonial name from 1890 to 1979, in recognition of Cecil John Rhodes who with his British Southern African Company (BSACo) engineered and financed British settlers’ occupation of the country. Whilst paying homage to Rhodes, this act was an assertion of the conquest of the natives and an announcement of the emergence of a new authority capable of authoring and authorising a new identity for the country (Mushati 2013) that spread across the Zimbabwean plateau. After the end of settler colonial rule and administration in 1980, the country’s name became Zimbabwe literally from Dzimba Dzemahwe (houses of stones/houses in stones), in recognition of one of the country’s pre-colonial empires, Great Zimbabwe National Monument (GZNM), that was built through classical architectural genius of the local-indigenous people. It is accepted that as humans create, modify, and move through a spatial milieu, the mediation between spatial experience and perception 56 reflexively creates, legitimates, and cements social relationships and ideas between societies and their members. This connotes that the journey of the settlers from South Africa to Rhodesia was punctuated with a lot of impediments and predicaments. As a sign of showing that Europeans had succeeded in conquering the various challenges that befell and troubled them as they adapted to their new environments, forts and certain physical structures were subsequently erected. These forts portray a story of heroism, conquest, sacrifice, bravery, and adventure (see also Mataga 2014). Commenting on the importance of the creation of the aforementioned settler heritage, David Hughes (2006) remarks that: Imperial colonisers do not seize land with guns and plows alone. In order to keep it, especially […], settlers must establish a credible sense of entitlement. They must propagate the conviction that they belong on the land they have just settled… all the while excluding natives from power, from wealth, and from territory, overseas pioneers must find a way to include themselves in new lands (p. 1-2). The forts constructed during their settling became part of the invention of a “myth of origin” for the settlers – known initially as the Pioneer Column. As much as the intellectual projects associated with pioneer historiography created a public sphere for the narrative of birth, the forts and battle sites became visual markers of this experience (Mataga 2014). It is essential to note right from the onset that these forts became the focal points and nuclei on major roads as well as major towns and cities for the colony. Two forts were constructed at Victoria, one in 1891 and the other in 1892, from which the nucleus town of Fort Victoria (now Masvingo City) emerged (Garlake 1965). The forts and settlements patterns established during the occupation of Rhodesia became visual symbols of settler conquest. Resultantly, the military occupation of Rhodesia by the Pioneer Column left in its wake an elaborate network of places that were transformed into official “monuments” by the colonial state (Mataga 2014). In conformity with this, Munzwa and Jonga (2010) 57 argue that the first colonial urban settlements were developed from military forts, established along the route of entry followed by the Pioneer Column starting with Fort Victoria which was named after Queen Victoria. The other towns which emerged as a result of these forts included Fort Charter (later named Enkeldorn, and now Chivhu) and Fort Salisbury (now Harare). It is worth noting that as the Pioneer Column sought dominance over the indigenous people of Zimbabwe, the landscape often became the canvas upon which this power struggle found expression. Consequently, various physical structures were erected as a way of stamping and legitimising their authority while trying to erase memory of the indigenous people. It is out of this attempt to forge legitimacy and erase memory of the...


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