Naletale Ruins to be Revived
US embassy donates to revive ruins
THE United States (US) embassy has donated more than $64 000 to the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) to restore the collapsed walls of Naletale Ruins in Somabhula in the Midlands province.
The funding was sourced through the US Department of State’s initiative and the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.
US ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton will join senior NMMZ officials in Gweru on November 13 for a tour of the ruins where the grant will be officially handed over.
“This project acknowledges the importance of Zimbabwe’s pre-colonial history and demonstrates the deep respect the US has for Zimbabwe’s rich cultural heritage,” Wharton said.
“The involvement of students at Midlands State University —whose logo incorporates the Naletale monuments — in this restoration project exemplifies the kinds of cross-cutting partnerships we strive for and also ensures that Naletale will be appreciated and monitored by future generations.”
The restoration of the collapsed walls and conservation of the deteriorating structure of Naletale will ensure its architectural, historical, aesthetic, educational, scientific and religious integrity are maintained.
Naletale was placed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s 2012 World’s Monument Watch list.
Naletale is known to have the greatest variety of traditional Zimbabwe culture decorations and patterns, displaying the highest level of craftsmanship of pre-colonial Shona civilisations.
Archaeologists believe the total collapse of the remaining walls would render the patterns irrecoverable.
The funding will also see the restoration of an interpretive learning centre and enable NMMZ to acquire equipment such as a global positioning system, theodolite, cameras, and veneer callipers, which are vital tools for professional archaeological work.
The NMMZ will work with a specialist in dry stonewall conservation and management who will assist in the execution of the project as well as train and develop local experts in stonewall monument management.
NMMZ director Godfrey Mahachi hailed the US for its support.
“NMMZ is grateful to the US ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation for the financial assistance given for Naletale Monument’s restoration,” Mahachi said.
“This project will go a long way in contributing to the national development strategy as restored monuments become important assets of the tourism industry.
“Restoration and conservation are the scientific and technological basis for heritage management. To this end, the project will be vital in the development of local expertise in the science and technology of conservation particularly in the field of traditional dry stone masonry,” Mahachi said.
Mahachi said Naletale can be developed and marketed for both domestic and foreign tourists within the Midlands region and therefore strengthening the link between NMMZ and communities living near monumental sites.
“It is our hope that this co-operation will not end with the Nalatale Monuments, but is a pointer of fruitious cultural co-operation between our institutions for the betterment of global heritage management and for the benefit of humanity,” Mahachi said.
The US embassy also provided funding for the installation of surveillance and security equipment at the Great Zimbabwe Museum in 2008 to curb theft of valuable historical artefacts and cultural resources.
The funding enabled the NMMZ to procure CCTV systems, battery back-ups, computer equipment, alarm and fire detection systems and to provide training to staff on the use of the new equipment.
The Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation assists individuals and organisations to preserve museum collections, ancient and historic sites, and traditional forms of expression, thereby helping to reinforce cultural identity and community solidarity.