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The Dilemma of the Presence of Great Zimbabwe Hotel within the Great Zimbabwe Monuments Cultural Landscape.

The Dilemma of the Presence of Great Zimbabwe Hotel within the Great Zimbabwe Monuments Cultural Landscape.

Tendai Zihove

 Department of History, Archaeology and Heritage Studies, Makerere University


Received: 19 April 2024; Accepted: 23 April 2024; Published: 28 May 2024 


The paper investigates how the introduction of the Great Zimbabwe Hotel (GZH) within the Great Zimbabwe Monuments (GZM) cultural landscape, create tensions within the area in postcolonial period. In particular it focuses on the tensions between the Great Zimbabwe Hotel and its neighbours namely the Great Zimbabwe Monuments and the local community surrounding the GZM cultural landscape. The Great Zimbabwe Hotel is one of the developments which was added to the Great Zimbabwe cultural landscape by the colonialists and is contributing to some challenges being currently faced within the landscape. This paper explores the evolution of tensions between the Great Zimbabwe Hotel and its neighbours, patterns and trends of the tension and the impact of the tensions on heritage conservation. In investigating this issue, National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe  (NMMZ) Act; semi-structured interviews and Focus Group Discussions (FGD) were employed in order to understand the impact of the hotel on the cultural landscape. The paper seeks to understand how the hotel’s presence within the landscape creates conflicts in that area. The study proposes that the hotel’s presence in the cultural landscapecompromises relations that locals have with their environment.

Keywords: Segregation; heritage conservation; cultural landscape; local communities; Great Zimbabwe Monuments; Great Zimbabwe Hotel.


With the advent of colonialism, a lot of changes happened to the cultural landscapes in Zimbabwe. Great Zimbabwe cultural landscape is one of the areas where lots of changes were introduced. These include among other things the destruction of archaeological material within the monument in a bid to seek treasure in the 19th century [1], [2], [3], [4] the introduction of a golf course at the site in 1960 [1], [5] and the building of a hotel within the cultural landscape in 1902. These new developments at the site had a negative implication to the site as they contributed to the desecration of the place [2]. The Great Zimbabwe Hotel (GZH) among other things which were introduced to the site was arguably a wrong move as there are challenges faced by its presence within the cultural landscape as was highlighted by some of the interviewees. Hotels are expected to have an ambience where there is less interference from other people who are not their clients [6]. Nevertheless, as was reflected by interviewees, where the hotel is situated, it is unavoidable to have such encroachment especially from locals and staff of Great Zimbabwe Monuments. Consequently, this is why there are lots of misunderstandings between the hotel and its neighbours, the Great Zimbabwe Monuments and the local community.

Great Zimbabwe Hotel is an accommodation facility situated within the Great Zimbabwe Monuments and World Heritage Site landscape. Having been built in 1902, the purpose of the hotel was to cater for accommodation for Rhodesians and other Europeans who came to visit Great Zimbabwe Monuments [2]. By that time, no Africans were allowed at the hotel as it was reserved for Europeans only. This was also the time when Africans were alienated from their heritage, Great Zimbabwe Monuments [1], [2], [3].  The site of Great Zimbabwe was attributed to foreign origin as a way to invade that space and utilize it for their own purposes [1], [2]. One of the reasons was to promote tourism at the site and to use it for business purposes [1], [2]. The business could be realized through the building of hotels at the site namely Great Zimbabwe Ruins hotel (now Great Zimbabwe Hotel) and the Sheppard’s hotel. The site of the Sheppard’s hotel is now used as a staff residence for staff at the lodge known as Lodge at the Ancient City [7]. The Lodge at the Ancient City was built very close to what used to be Sheppard’s hotel [7]. By introducing hotels, heritage was appropriated. This appropriation of heritage can also be realized in present day where the Great Zimbabwe Hotel and the Lodge at the Ancient City are imitating the architecture at Great Zimbabwe.

Great Zimbabwe Hotel is one of the hotels close to Great Zimbabwe Monuments which is possibly wrongly positioned based on the environment it is situated. The other hotels such as Kyle View Chalet, Lodge at the Ancient City, Clevers Resort, Mutirikwi lodges are situated outside the world heritage site property therefore their interference with the monuments is minimized. The environment where Great Zimbabwe Hotel is located is controversially not compatible with the standards which are expected for hotels. Most of the hotels in Zimbabwe “provide their services to tourists, travelers, business meetings and conferences, and private functions” [6] (p. 777). As such these places are expected to be quiet without interference of intruders. In that manner, they are also a preserve for well to do people and if a person who is not well up shows up, he or she might be suspected to be a thief. Hotels are arguably places where people who are regarded ‘poor’ are held with suspicion. The relationship of the Great Zimbabwe Hotel and the locals was tainted since its inception in 1902 where the locals were detached from their cultural landscape. This isolation of locals continued even in post-independent period. Some of the Managers at the hotel use the colonial mindset in the way they run the hotel. They believe that locals should be cut off from the hotel and that the hotel should work in isolation. Consequently, the hotel becomes a place where people from the local communities are taken as inferior and unsuitable to be at the hotel. While the tourism industry applauds the presence of hotels close to heritage sites or resort areas [8], [6] this is debatably not good for the heritage sites as this promotes disharmony between hotels and the locals living nearby.

With the attainment of independence in 1980, National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe an organization responsible for cultural heritage management in the country was leasing the hotel [9], but later it sold the hotel to Don Williams. One of the interviewees noted that the hotel is Don properties and it falls under the African Sun Hotels which is an international corporation. The fact that it is under an international corporation reflects that the hotel expects to have international standards.  The agreement that was made between NMMZ and the hotel according to NMMZ officials was that no digging should be carried out at the hotel without the knowledge of NMMZ. This agreement was based on the fact that the hotel is within the Great Zimbabwe Monuments archaeological zone. Therefore, in order to safeguard the archaeological material within that area, all developments had to be known by NMMZ. This move was followed depending on who was managing the hotel. The changes in the management at the hotel created lots of tension between NMMZ and the hotel as each Manager brought his or her own rules which contradicted with NMMZ requirements.


History of Alienation of Locals from the Cultural Landscape

The tensions between the hotel and its neighbours, the Great Zimbabwe Monuments and local communities surrounding the cultural landscape has not received much scholarly attention. Much focus on the Great Zimbabwe cultural landscape is on the monument itself and its relations with the local community [1], [3], [10]. Nonetheless, this alienation is the root cause of the conflicts currently being faced by the hotel and its neighbours.  The alienation of the locals from the monument began with the coming of Europeans to the site in the 19th century [1], [3], [2]. This alienation was marked by not allowing the locals a chance to perform traditional ceremonies within the monument and fencing the monument thereby distancing the monument from the locals [1], [3], [2]. Similarly, the hotel was fenced to cut off the local community from utilizing the space. With occupation of the cultural landscape by colonialists, local traditions were replaced with new ones [11] such as tourism, playing golf course, introduction of parks and these transformed the landscape.

There have been changes in the Great Zimbabwe cultural landscape from hunter gatherers, Early Farming Communities to the Late Farming Communities [1].  The hunter gatherers did not alter the landscape as they lived a nomadic life [1]. The landscape began to change with farming communities, with the Late Farming Communities building the stone structures [1]. The stone structures were in harmony with the nature and did not alter the landscape [1]. The building of structures within this landscape marked the settlement of the people within that landscape and the area became a religious centre [1], [3], [2]. These developments were introduced by the people who were living within that landscape. The coming of Europeans brought a totally different environment where hotels, golf course, lodges, curio shop, exotic trees were introduced to the landscape [1], [3], [5]. A lot of vegetation was removed as a result of these developments [1]. The land also became a national park following the introduction of the Land Apportionment Act in 1931 [1]. This altered the landscape to a new space but in this space the people who were found living there were denied a chance to fully utilize their space. As a result, segregation of the locals began to be part and parcel of this environment.

Introduction of new things in an alien environment translates to changes in the cultural space [12]. Some of the things which changed in the cultural landscape as a result of what was introduced by colonialists include the disappearance of voices which used to be heard within the monument as well as animals such as lions which used to be seen within the landscape [12], [5], [3]. A new environment emerged where tourists became an integral part of the landscape. Tourism continued even in the aftermath of independence. Nevertheless, the landscape has become a priority for tourists and tourism activities at the expense of the locals surrounding the landscape. Locals have been distanced from their landscape as hotels and lodges are taking the centre stage within the landscape. Tourism has transformed the landscape as it brought more developments within the cultural landscape, for instance, hotels [1].

After independence, there was and there is still no harmony on how the landscape should be utilized as locals want to use it the way it was used during the precolonial period. With changes in the environment, it is almost difficult for the locals to fully enjoy their environment as there are new laws which govern some sections of the landscape. These include the NMMZ Act Chapter 25:11 which forbids anyone from altering the monument without authorization of the Executive Director [13]. Other laws include unlawful entry especially at places like the Great Zimbabwe Hotel.


The research used a qualitative approach where narrative inquiry; semi-structure interviews and focus group discussions were employed. Semi-structured interviews were held with two former employees of Great Zimbabwe Monuments and two current employees of the site; two former staff of the Great Zimbabwe Hotel and two current staff of the hotel and three Shona village tenants. These people were chosen on the basis of the relationship they have with the cultural landscape and the experiences they have with what happens in the cultural landscape.  People who were involved in the Focus Group Discussions include nine local communities from the three chieftainships surrounding the site namely Nemanwa; Mugabe and Murinye. The narrations from the FGD were crucial in understanding where the tensions with the hotel emanate from. NMMZ Act Chapter 25/11 was utilized in order to understand the law which govern the cultural landscape.  The research was carried out in March; April; July; August and December 2023.


The findings of the research are divided into sections which reflect thefollowing:  the relationship between the hotel and the monuments;the relationship between the hotel and the local community and the impact of the hotel to the monuments and the local community.

The Great Zimbabwe Hotel and the Great Zimbabwe Monuments

In the 1980s and 1990s, the hotel had good relations with staff at Great Zimbabwe Monuments. The interviewed members of staff and former employees of GZM pointed out that the Managers at the hotel called them for dinner and breakfast at the hotel and would also offer t-shirts for free to staff at GZM. This was a gesture of thanking them for keeping a site which brought revenue to their hotel. The hotel staff acknowledged that the hotel’s presence in the monument kept their business flowing.  Staff at GZM would also leave their personal cars as well as NMMZ vehicles at the hotel overnight. Likewise, staff at GZM would give complementary for staff at Great Zimbabwe Hotel and their families to enter the monument for free. This also still continues up to today on the GZM side. During the 1980s and 1990s there was harmony between Great Zimbabwe Hotel and Great Zimbabwe Monuments and this reached a point where many thought the hotel and the monument were under one company.

Findings from the research indicated that the harmony that was there between the hotel and the monuments in the early 1980s was also because the managers at both places were Europeans. The greater part of difference emerged when the monuments began to be managed by Africans. With Africans in place, golf course was stopped within the cultural landscape as they prioritized the spirituality of the site. Africans were also allowed to move freely within the cultural landscape with minimum restrictions. Some interviewees pointed out that the hotel staff was not amused by these developments and tensions emerged between the two institutions. These tensions continued even with African Managers running the hotel.

In the year 2000 going forward, relations between the hotel and the monuments began to change as Managers of the hotel changed. According to some of the interviewees, some Managers were not comfortable with staff at GZM leaving their cars at the hotel or eating food at the hotel. On the other hand, this was also caused because of the economic challenges that the country was facing. Consequently, all this was stopped. Findings from the research also revealed that some Managers proceeded to carry out developments within the cultural landscape without notifying NMMZ thus disturbing the archaeological material within that zone. For instance, this happened around 2020 and 2021 when the camp site at the hotel was established and also in July 2023 when a septic tank soakaway for the new conference hall was constructed. Some of the interviewees pointed out that these developments are serious issues which make the hotel’s presence within the Great Zimbabwe landscape unacceptable.

It is also now the hotel’s culture that whenever it is carrying out developments, they do not want to see NMMZ staff roaming around the hotel. One NMMZ staff was asked to leave the campsite by one of the Security Guards at the hotel in July 2023 whilst on internet. Later in August 2023, it was found out that the hotel was digging a soakaway pit close to that campsite without notifying NMMZ. The soakaway pit is on the hotel’s fireguard which is on the monuments’ side. As a result of this, there is a possibility that the hotel does not want to be stopped its developments by NMMZ hence they have to deny them a chance to access certain areas where they want to carry out developments. Nevertheless, this is also an act which is against the NMMZ law which states that no digging should be carried out within the monument without permission from the Executive Director of NMMZ [13].

Research findings revealed that the hotel also used to dump rubbish within the landscape and also collected firewood within the monument. This was then stopped by the monuments around the year 2017. Collection of firewood within the World Heritage Site is forbidden as the trees need to be conserved. There are also other trees which are spiritual and are not allowed to be cut for instance trees such as Muhacha (parinaric curatelifolia) [1]. Such trees need to be safeguarded as well. Some spirit mediums also complained that the hotel was spoiling the monument by the rubbish they dumped within the site. All these are some of the aspects which make the hotel and the monuments’ relations not good.

In addition to the above, access to the hotel is sometimes restricted. At one point in time some NMMZ vehicles which had heavy sounds were not allowed to pass through the hotel. For instance, interviewees noted that there is a tractor which was forbidden to pass through the hotel by staff at the hotel around 2009. The staff at the hotel complained that the vehicles make a lot of noise to their clients. Although this made sense, it was not appropriate in the sense that the hotel is one of the routes to go to the monument and is the shorter route than the other route which monuments staff use. Moreso, considering that the monument is the hotel’s neighbour, it was inappropriate for the hotel to ask its neighbour not to use that route just because a vehicle which only takes a few seconds to pass by makes a lot of noise. Consequently, this triggered tensions between the hotel and the monument.

Buses which carried people to the monument were also denied entry via the hotel from 2000 going forward. The reason for this as mentioned above was that they made a lot of noise. People in the buses would usually sing songs when they arrived at the hotel. This was out of excitement that they have reached Great Zimbabwe. According to the interviewed NMMZ officials, the hotel requested that all buses which were going to the monument should use the other side and not the hotel’s side.  From that time up to now, almost all buses ferrying people do not use the road which passes through the hotel.

The hotel can be accessed through two routes, via the monument and via the hotel itself. The hotel has two gates but for one to get to the hotel they pass through monuments gates since the hotel is within the monument. For the entrance which goes straight to the hotel, there is a monuments’ gate which people pass through before getting to the hotel’s entrance. With the tensions that were developing between the hotel and the monuments, the monuments decided to close its gate. This meant that for one to go to the hotel, they had to go via the other monuments’ gate which passes through the monuments. That other monuments’ gate is closed at 6pm meaning that no one is allowed to pass through the monument after that time. This also meant that the hotel would lose clients who come after 6pm.  This tit for tat game happens even up to today whenever the hotel does anything which angers the monument. Subsequently, the hotel is always cautious of how it treats the monument as it is the hotel which loses and not the monument.

In one incident in 2010, some of the interviewees narrated that the Security Guards at the hotel closed the gate for the then Executive Director of NMMZ after he had gone for drinks at the hotel. When he wanted to leave for his room (in the monument) after 10pm, he was denied entry by the Security Guards at the hotel leading him to sleep in his car.  The gate he was denied entry was the hotel’s gate which leads straight to the monument. This angered the NMMZ staff who then retaliated by closing their gate at the Great Zimbabwe Hotel entrance. The General Manager of the hotel had to plead with the monuments for the gate to be opened but was warned by the monuments that such incidents should not happen again. From that time, the hotel does not deny monuments staff to pass through that gate after 10pm.

At one point in 2008 and 2009, GZM staff were denied a chance to pass through the hotel especially after 10pm. The hotel as earlier mentioned is the shortest route which the staff at GZM can use to go back and forth to their homes in Nemanwa Growth point and also within the Great Zimbabwe Monuments itself.  As neighbours, it was not an issue to some Managers of the hotel but to some it was a real issue. This meant that the staff at GZM was seen as nuisance, the same way locals were viewed during the colonial period. Shona Village tenants who are mostly traditional dancers in the village located in the monument are turned away due to the way they dress.  The traditional dancers usually wear traditional regalia. The village tenants noted that such type of dressing is not entertained at the hotel. The ironic part of it is that the landscape in which the hotel is situated is traditional and rural and this what is expected in that environment.

During the covid period, staff at GZM and locals were not allowed to pass through the hotel. The covid period was marked by such prohibitions in most areas. This was understandable but some of the GZM staff members did not take that lightly. Nonetheless, the monuments did not close their gate as they usually do when they are turned away by the hotel. The tactic that the Managers at the hotel now use according to some interviewees is to have good relations with the Regional Director for GZM whom they ensure that he gets some favours from the hotel. In that manner, they are assured that the monuments will not close the gate for them.

Apart from the monuments closing their gate, interviewees indicated that there is a python which occasionally stays at the monuments’ gate (hotel side) therefore closing the way to road users. The python is usually seen during the night at around 9pm and 10pm. The presence of the python at the gate is attributed to the spirits being angry with the presence of the hotel within their area. Therefore, the snake is interpreted as a spirit which is evading people from going to the hotel.

Although the hotel segregates its neighbour in various ways which have been mentioned, they benefit from the monument. Where hotels are located has been proven to be one of the elements which draws guests to the place [8]. Most of the GZH clients are drawn to the hotel because of its closeness to the monument and many of these clients are people who visit the monument. Therefore, the hotel is potentially benefiting because of its closeness to the monument.

The hotel has also its own concerns about the monuments. Staff at the hotel complain that the monuments’ staff do not pay a courtesy call at the reception when they come at the hotel. They complained that the staff can sit at the hotel without seeking permission do that. As such the hotel feels dishonoured by such actions from GZM staff.  The staff at the monument argue that they react in that way because they have been accustomed to that by previous GZH Managers who allowed them to stay at the hotel freely. They were allowed because they were known and would not be mistaken for thieves when they were seen at the hotel.

The Hotel and the Local Communities

The hotel is situated in a place which is a route to some of the villagers to their homes, for instance those who stay in the Mukungwa area and some parts of Mzero farm. According to interviewees, after attainment of independence, locals were allowed to pass through the monument as well as the hotel. This move was implemented as a way of embracing the community to their heritage. Villagers from the nearby villages are allowed to pass through the monument from 6 am to 6 pm. This is also the same time they can pass through the hotel. However, some interviewees noted that from around 2009 to 2023, villagers were at some point denied entry at the hotel. It is said that the staff at the hotel were not pleased by their dressing and regarded this as reducing the standard of the hotel. They argued that their clients would assume that the hotel’s standards are low if they see such kind of people passing through. The villagers would also be suspected of being thieves by the clients. In that way, locals are seen as trash. Consequently, locals are denied a chance to enjoy their place because it is being reserved for tourists and clients coming from far away.

One of the locals noted that “When any disaster happens at the hotel we will not assist. We will just tell them that we are dirt and not fit to be at the hotel”. Some locals also reiterated “Do you think we will assist the hotel when disaster happens there? No, we will never. We will simply tell them that we are not allowed at the hotel, please get help from your clients”. This resonates well with what was argued by [10], on how communities react when they are excluded from utilizing their cultural landscape. Giving an example of Domboshava National Monuments, [10], highlight how the site was vandalized when the local community was denied a chance to use the site by NMMZ. Although the locals living close to Great Zimbabwe do not intend to do harm for the hotel, the fact that they are seen as ‘rubbish’ will not prompt them to assist the hotel when any disaster happens there.

The hotel expects to see ‘well dressed’ people passing through the hotel and not people who will be carrying sacks and not dressed in a classy way. The Shona village tenants and some members of the local community pointed out that they are turned away when they are wearing shorts (for men); sandals (manyatera) and tattered clothes. The hotel wants classic things around their hotel so as to match the standards of a hotel. One of the hotel’s staff noted that old vehicles or taxis known as chipipipior mushikashika are not allowed to pass through the hotel as their condition is not suitable for that environment. All this is done in order to maintain the reputation of the hotel but the problem is that the hotel is in a rural set up and such standards are difficult to maintain. The challenge with the hotel is that it is situated in a place which is a route to many people who stay around the cultural landscape. This is unlike other nearby lodges like Lodge at the Ancient City; Clevers Resort and Lake Mutirikwi lodge which are situated in places where there is no much interference from outsiders. This also explains why such hotels and lodges have less friction with the locals. Although the GZH segregates the locals, many locals argued that the hotel’s standards do not match that of a three- star hotel as the hotel is not that nice.  Such comments are triggered by the way people are treated by the hotel.

When it comes to the benefits that the hotel has to the community, many community members say that it is of no use. This is also confirmed by [12], who argues that the hotel does not support the local people by buying crops or vegetables from them. He mentions that most of local communities are farmers hence they could benefit if the hotel buys from them [12]. It is also most likely that the hotel might regard supplies from locals as ‘dirt’ since they have a low regard of the locals. Nevertheless, some staff at the hotel mentioned that they buy vegetables and other crops from the locals.

To the community, the hotel is a nuisance which is depriving them of having an attachment with their environment. Usually lack of attachment to a place make people not to value the place [15]. The GZH is not valued by many members from the local community rather it is a nuisance within their locality which they feel detached from. They also argue that the hotel promotes promiscuity and this is considered an inappropriate thing to happen in a sacred place. They argued that the hotel does not only provide accommodation to tourists but is also a ground for those who commit adultery. In doing so it will be contributing to the desecration of the heritage.  [16] (p.382), argues that “one possible form of exploitation of a heritage site or the World Heritage idea would be persons, companies, organisations or governmental bodies trying to make financial, social or symbolic profit from the title or the prominence of the site without paying attention to its adequate protection or other legitimate interests, such as those of the local population”. In this case the hotel is taking advantage of the popularity of the monument to advance its own agendas without considering the values of the cultural landscape and people living within that environment.

Local members also want to be part of the hotel but are not given that chance. Other local members mentioned that they approached the hotel wanting to set a committee there but were denied that. They wanted to have a similar committee that they have with GZM. At GZM there is a committee which assists in the management and conservation of the site, the Great Zimbabwe Local Community Representative Committee (GZLCRC). For GZM they can be part of the management because its ‘their’ heritage whereas at GZH they cannot do that because it is someone’s space. Some people suggested that there should be a hotel named Great Zimbabwe Hotel which should be owned by NMMZ. They want this to contribute to the downfall of the current Great Zimbabwe Hotel which they consider unfit for their environment.

Locals also complain about the ‘selfishness’ of the hotel when it comes to consumption of water that comes from Zimbabwe National Water Supply Authority (ZINWA). The hotel has tanks in which they pump water for use by their clients when water is in short supply. People living in Nemanwa Growth point which is a location where most people who work at the monument, lodges, hotels, Masvingo Rural District Council (MRDC) stay are deprived of water when the hotel pumps water in its tanks.  Water pipes which go to Nemanwa pass through the hotel and this is the water which the hotel rushes to fill in their tanks when water is barely sufficient at ZINWA. The hotel does that in order toaugment water shortages at the hotel so that their clients will not lack this precious liquid. Therefore, the hotel wants to keep higher standards for its clients’ sake. While clients might be happy with the services the hotel will be providing, the locals will be disadvantaged by such actions. Therefore, relationship between the hotel and locals is worsened by this act and is always tense.

What the Hotel Provides

The hotel provides wifi or internet services for free to communities in the nearby surroundings. Nonetheless, the way it is provided is intermittent. Given the high internet charges that most places experience, it is understandable why they may not be happy with surrounding communities using the services. Some of the locals pointed out that the hotel pretends to like locals at their hotel yet they really do not want people at their premises. One of the reasons that the hotel is suspicious of people who use its internet is that there is a time when thieves disguised themselves as people who were looking for internet. Therefore, the hotel had to be strict with everyone who came to their premises. Apart from providing internet services, the hotel has done well for the locals by employing them at the hotel.

Relations between the hotel and the locals and the monument is good when there is a fire outbreak in the nearby surroundings. The hotel assists in putting out fire but arguably they do this in order to protect their hotel from catching fire. That is probably the only time they want to mix with the community.


Each place has its own rules and regulations but the hotel’s rules are not fit for the place it is situated. The idea of having the hotel close to the site was good in the sense that people or tourists could find accommodation within the close range of the Great Zimbabwe Monuments. However, this was also a wrong move considering where it was placed and the valued attached to the place. The values of the hotel and the monument do not match. The hotel is a business entity whereas the monuments is a people’s place where everyone is accommodated since it is heritage. The area the hotel is located is also an archaeological zone and developments should be minimal. However, because the hotel wants to compete with other nearby lodges, it introduces various developments like conference facilities, camp sites among other things so that it attracts many clients. Nonetheless, this is not ideal for the conservation of the archaeological material within the landscape. Consequently, the hotel and the monuments which will always have less harmony because they are not compatible. The hotel could have at least been placed far away from the monument and in areas where the locals do not pass through so often. Additionally, it could have been placed in an area which is not archaeologically sensitive. It would also have been ideal if the hotel had decided to involve the locals in the way the hotel is run in order to minimize tensions.

The hotel’s treatment to its neighbours could also have been triggered by economic, political and social issues. Economically, the hotel wants to satisfy its customers with up to standard services. This means that their premise should always have water available, no trespassers who disturb their clients and an environment which is conducive for anyone on holidays to staying. In order to achieve all this, they have to compromise the needs of the locals. As such locals have to be deprived of some of their needs such as water as it should be a preserve for the hotel’s clients. Locals also do not need to walk around in their landscape freely as there are restrictions to do that. Nevertheless, this is grossly unfair on the part of the locals who have to suffer because of ‘intruders’ in their landscape.

Socially, there are issues of thieves who can roam around the hotel disguising themselves as locals. Therefore, it would be difficult for the hotel to accept anyone as their clients’ properties can be stolen. In such circumstances, restrictions are unavoidable. On the other note, the hotel is seen as a blessing in society especially in the tourism industry as they believe that job opportunities are created. While job opportunities may be created, the society is largely segregated from the hotel.

With its relations with the monument, there is politics that the hotel is within the Great Zimbabwe cultural landscape and therefore has to comply with everything expected by NMMZ. In that manner, relations will always be toxic as the hotel is more like a ‘tenant’ while NMMZ is the ‘owner/ landlord’ of the landscape. Moreover, due to the archaeological sensitiveness of the place, this means that the hotel should always comply with the NMMZ act. Failure to do so can possibly result to the hotel being subjected to the rule of law.

Some of the interviewees pointed out that in every Environmental Impact Assessment that is carried out in Zimbabwe, the developer is expected to mention the benefits of the development to the locals. This means that every development should benefit and should be of value to the locals. It also means locals should not be distanced from any development that happens within their vicinity. This law could have been imposed after the government had realized that the locals are always distanced from the developments which happen within their locality. Nevertheless, developments which are in the Great Zimbabwe cultural landscape were introduced before the law was passed and also during the colonial time where such issues were not considered. As such, developments such as the Great Zimbabwe Hotel still uphold to the colonial mentality of segregating the locals and not allowing them to benefit from the hotel. The hotel does not only do this to the locals but to the monuments, an area in which it is located very close to. The ironic part of it is that the hotel alienates its neighbour, the Great Zimbabwe Monuments yet without the monument the hotel would arguably not have been viable.


The paper has reflected the tensions between the hotel and its neighbours namely the local community and the Great Zimbabwe Monuments. The tensions as reflected by the study are triggered by the presence of the hotel which is within a cultural landscape which is regarded as a cultural hub for Zimbabweans. The expectations of the hotel and those of the cultural landscape do not match as the landscape is expected to embrace everyone whereas the hotel is ‘selective’. Given the history of segregation which was experienced within the cultural landscape during the colonial period, the hotel remains a reminder of the segregation of Africans from their cultural sites. In this manner, it would be ideal if the Government of Zimbabwe intervenes and ensures that there is harmony within the landscape. For this to be satisfied the government can forbid private entities to run businesses within the cultural landscape. This will help to decrease the sprouting of developments which affect the archaeological artefacts as well as the visual impact of the landscape. Segregation of the locals from utilizing ‘their’ landscape will also be minimized.  There is also need to uphold the values of the cultural landscape by promoting and prioritizing cultural activities rather than tourism activities within the landscape. This is important in limiting tensions between cultural activities and tourism activities in the landscape as those reflected in the relations between the hotel and its neighbours.


I would like to thank my supervisor, Prof Elizabeth Kyazike for the guidance. I also thank all the interviewees who participated in this research.


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