An Enlightening Journey to Ngamo Village

US-based Tasimba LLC is a long-time and much-appreciated supporter of CITW Zambezi. Founder Hugh Coppen, with Heather Weaver, recently brought a group of guests to Hwange, where they had truly transformative wilderness and community encounters. Hugh picks up the story…

In the heart of the untamed wilderness, magic happens. Another Tasimba Safari Experience with a group of 8 well-traveled guests has just landed at the Hwange airstrip in Zimbabwe ready to embark on an extraordinary adventure. They are about to enjoy sole, exclusive occupancy of the beautiful Wilderness Little Makalolo camp. Because they will be here for seven uninterrupted days, they will have the privilege of time to become deeply immersed in nature’s embrace and the prolific wildlife under the expert guidance of two Pro Guides. This continuous time in one camp enables them to truly observe, to inquire, to listen and to learn.

Tasimba’s unique ‘stay longer, go deeper’ experience allows an entire day to be devoted to immersing guests in the rich tapestry of local culture and community.  On a beautiful day in May 2023, Tasimba’s most recent group, named the Shamwari Clan, left camp for an unforgettable expedition to Ngamo village, nestled just outside Hwange National Park. Here’s the story of their enlightening adventure. (Note: Tasimba gives each group of guests a unique Ndebele or Shona clan name inspired by suggestions from Wilderness camp staff.)

As the day begins, the guests gather for breakfast, brimming with anticipation. Sue Goatley, the Zambezi Region Impact Manager, and Cynthia Ndiweni of CITW (Children in the Wilderness) join them, sharing insights into the village and outlining the day’s program. On arrival at Ngamo the group embarks on a fascinating drive through the village, passing approximately 70 homesteads with their traditional huts and fenced-in bomas, the enclosures for livestock.

Our initial stop unveils an inspiring surprise – a flourishing community of passionate basket weavers. These talented artisans have elevated the art of traditional weaving of intricate designs into various shapes and sizes of baskets.  The guests marvel at their craftsmanship and dedication, witnessing the fusion of heritage and innovation.

Continuing their journey, our guests get a glimpse of communal farming. Herders guide their cattle from the grazing areas towards the livestock dip tank. There the animals enter a narrow chute before leaping into a narrow pool filled with muti – a special concoction that protects them from ticks and other harmful parasites. It’s a mesmerizing – and spectacular – event, and one that few visitors ever get to see!

We arrive next to the abode of Mr. Johnson Ncube, the revered headman of the village. Warmly greeted by him and his elegant wife, Dorothy, we are invited into his traditional dining hut where he hosts an Indaba.  Eager to deepen their understanding of the community, we engage in a lively meeting with an exchange of questions and answers unveiling many facets of village life. Then Dorothy proudly leads the group on a tour of the homestead, visiting the kitchen, parlor, granary, and chicken coop.  Every corner reveals a story of resilience, tradition and pride.

To express our gratitude for the kind reception, Tasimba presents Dorothy with a gift of flour, sugar, and cooking oil – a gesture intended to nourish the extended family residing within the homestead.

The Shamwari Clan moved on to visit the village’s new clinic. One of the guests, bringing much-needed medications from Canada, presented them to the grateful clinic staff. Next stop for the group was to sit in on a community meeting, to hear insightful discussions about a new CITW-inspired agricultural project. We witnessed the power of community collaboration, where voices intertwine to shape an exciting future for the village.

After a quick packed lunch brought from camp, the group is ready for the most delightful part of the day – an unforgettable visit to Ngamo Primary School.

Enthusiastically welcomed by the CITW’s Eco-Club members of the 6th grade class, we are captivated by the vibrant rhythm of song and dance. Then, led into a bustling classroom, each Tasimba guest engages in animated conversations with a group of four or five children. Laughter fills the air as the room buzzes with excitement and energetic chatter. Finally, brimming with joy, the children endeavor to teach our guests the various rhythmic clicks of the Ndebele language.  Uproarious merriment ensues – especially for the kids!

The warm presence of these rural children, who radiate such exuberance and boundless optimism, is heartwarming for Tasimba guests on every visit. Many of the students make daily treks of five miles or more to and from school, yet their resilience and unwavering spirit is inspirational to us all. As the children enjoy cookies and juice brought specially for them from camp, Tasimba expresses our deep gratitude by presenting food supplies in support of the school lunch program. Additionally, on behalf of every guest we bring to the village, Tasimba makes a cash donation to CITW for scholarships to the most deserving and vulnerable children.

Among the countless memories of their week in the African wilderness that are etched in the hearts of all our Tasimba guests, the school visit stands tall. They never forget, and are forever enlightened by, the spirit of these children. What a treasured highlight!

Thank you, Children in the Wilderness, thank you Ngamo village. Like all our previous visits, this day has once again left a wellspring of inspiration that is forever imprinted in our memories.

By Hugh Coppen & Heather Weaver – Tasimba LLC, July 2023

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