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Binga hot springs dry out

by Staff reporter
23 Jul 2022 at 07:28hrs | Views
THERE are more than 30 hot springs in Zimbabwe where warm water gushes from the ground.

Geologists believe natural hot springs are found where water seeps into areas of volcanic activity in the earth's crust and is superheated before forcing its way back to the surface.

Countries known for magnificent hot springs where people enjoy warm baths are Japan, Iceland, Antarctica, Peru, Taiwan, United States, Canada, New Zealand, Chile and United Kingdom.

In Zimbabwe, the hottest springs are in Binga on the shores of Lake Kariba where the water reaches 90 degrees celsius, Lubimbi in the same district near the Gwayi River and Rupisi in Manicaland.

The water appears to boil as gas bubbles are released, showing clouds of steam.

It is believed that water from the hot springs has healing properties and in some countries people travel to swim or bath in the waters believing it will heal skin diseases, sore backs and swollen legs among others, although there is no known scientific research for proof.

Part of the belief is that when visiting such places for bathing or any other ritual, soaps or perfumes are not allowed as this may offend ancestors.

People often throw coins into the waters believing their wish would be granted.

However, the once magnificent Binga hot springs located about 6km from Binga centre on the edge of Lake Kariba are now a pale shadow of what they used to be.

The hot water used to gush to about two metres high and flow down the rocky terrain towards the lake but now hardly rises above the ground.

Locals believe the ancestors are offended by human activities.

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) fenced off the place to protect the hot springs, which locals believe contributed to violation of the place.

The local community has upheld the sanctity of the place through generations and used to conduct traditional rain making ceremonies and other rituals at the site.

They told Chronicle that the practice stopped when ZimParks fenced the area a few years ago.

There are claims of people using the place for picnics and as a safe haven for immoral activities while others conduct private rituals which are not in tandem with Tonga culture.

The place is littered with various kinds of garbage such as broken egg shells, bottles and condoms.

Some now even herd cattle at the place.

Chief Sinansengwe of Binga said the hot springs have lost significance.

"The hot springs are no longer the same since they were taken away from traditional leaders who are no longer allowed to conduct traditional ceremonies there.

That place is cultural and should be returned to traditional leaders who know its sanctity.

There are traditional practices that were performed there which appeased ancestors and that brought blessings to the whole community," said Chief Sinansengwe whose area borders with Binga centre.

Chief Siansali whose area also has a hot spring in Lubimbi and a cold spring in Kariangwe concurred, saying the late Chief Sikalenge family was the one in charge of the hot springs.

He said during rainmaking ceremonies at the hot springs a sangoma would disappear into thin air and on reappearing, would be carrying various kinds of crop produce and that was a sign of crops to be grown that particular year.

When the sangoma returned empty handed or with a few things, that signified drought and the community would prepare for it.

"Water used to gush out to the height of a person but that is no longer happening because of interference with culture and the water is slowly disappearing.

This was a sacred place where rainmaking ceremonies and rituals were conducted led by Chief Sikalenge's family," said Chief Siansali.

He said there is still room to approach the family and appease the spirits.

Chief Siansali said the hot springs can be a viable tourism attraction.

"People can come to witness traditional rituals and this can promote our culture.

In Zambia the Lozi people still do the Kuwomboka ceremony and their culture is still intact," he said.

He said the little known Lubimbi hot springs are a source of irrigation water for villagers as it flows into a perennial stream from where the community fetches water.

He said the cold water spring in Kariangwe is used for domestic use and is also sacred.

A non-governmental organisation (NGO) once tried to connect pipes to redirect the water which seeps from a mountain but it stopped coming out, said Chief Siansali.

He said after consultation with locals, the NGO put a tap for villagers to fetch water and the water is continuously running from the tap.

Chief Siansali said Binga community naturally respects culture but bemoaned deliberate violation of culture by some elements that hide behind the constitution claiming to have freedom of worship.

The Binga community wants to be consulted before any development.

Source - The Chronicle
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