By Vitalis Ruvando
TRAVELLING for 20 kilometres in a dark cave presents not only nerve-racking but rewarding encounters.
Granted, strategies to motivate the exploration of our cave heritages have been stalled by navigational uncertainties and fear.
Said ILiffe (2018) asserts: “The list of what can go wrong in a cave could fill your event planner. Equipment or light failure, flouting spiritual obligations, getting lost in space, leaking scuba tanks, mysterious disappearance, cave collapse, stirred up silt resulting in zero visibility, poisonous gas – you get the idea?”
In Zimbabwe, cave heritages are owned by rural communities.
They revitalise rural community ethos though they are not providing economic benefits for citizens.
However, the untapped cave heritages resemble the biblical ‘hidden treasure’ to Zimbabwe’s economy or tourism industry in particular.
Many times, cave heritages have living traditions around mountainous locations.
The motivation to unpack cave heritages is subsequent to ongoing researches that confirm that such heritages are associated with creation of generational wealth.
Cave heritages are home to ‘guardians of the land’, mermaid spirits, mhondoro and masvikiro that inspire diverse vocations.
Spectacular ninga: heroes’ acres, snakes, eyeless creatures, adage food reserves, precious stones, awful fascinations, ancient attires or utensils, myths and traditions define cave heritages.
Incredible generational wealth (in the form of material or immaterial culture) that was amassed by our forefathers awaits sustainable exploitations.
Cave heritages save social tasks that include being sacred places, ‘battle poshitos’, medical and incardination centres that camouflage their role as reserve banks.
Regrettably, no royalties are paid to sustain the rural community ethos that protects cave heritages yet researchers are getting free information.
Without an elaborate auditing system, prophets (vaporofita), psychosomatic sages (machiremba), politicians, sick and differently abled citizens are restored or ordained in cave environs.
“Subsequently, how come the tutored economists are victims of generational poverty and zero-sum games when our untutored forefathers managed to save generational wealth for their progenies?” asked the late Sekuru Mushowe.
Informed by the axiology dictating cave heritages, perhaps there is a colonial wrong linked to prevailing applications of conformist economics.
Arguably, there seems to be a lot conformist economists can adopt from existing traditional economics regarding the progressive values in cave heritages.
Research indicates that cave heritages aid processes of educating citizens and stimulate drives towards growing generational wealth within rural communities.
Furthermore, counsels impress that mhondoro, masvikiro, psychosomatic sages (machiremba), chiefs (madzishe) and (masabhuku) secret cave heritages, specialised divinations, exorcisms, incardination of prophets and other rituals are enacted in caves.
My experience with cave heritages, community sages, knowledge from Plato (427-347 BC), Daneel (1970) and Aschwanden (2000) inspire this reflection and sharing.
Professors Daneel and Ashwanden reviewed the ‘cave of steel’ in Gutu and caves in Matopo Hills respectively.
Socrates’ dialogue with Glaucon on the ‘Allegory of the Cave’ in Plato’s book Republic VII, 514 a 2 to 517 motivates this author to limelight local cave heritages.
Republic V11 narrates a Greek rural community myth that advocates human creation and development as an act that first thrived in a cave.
In one corner of the cave, it is said there existed fire that generated shadows of imprisoned and chained habitats on the other side of the cave.
The first humans or community adapted to the dark milieu, captivity, and convinced themselves that there is no better world than the cave environ.
It was a socially constructed taboo to travel out of the cave darkness till one prodigal actor did.
One prodigal actor revelled in the sun and paradisiac earth above the cave and nearly disremembered to return to the cave.
Upon returning to the cave, the prodigy’s narratives to cave patrons gainsaid cave folklores and lifestyles.
This earned the prodigal actor a death sentence.
The allegory of the cave can be an emancipatory or interpretive tool in various contexts.
As a nation, circumstances defining the history of our struggles for emancipation can be interfaced with the allegory of the cave.
Mental and psychological colonialism that most citizens have internalised present one way the allegorical cave can be used as a counter-repression tool.
Veterans of the struggle, an iconic generational wealth (human capital), represent the prodigal thespian.
In the main, the fallen heroes and heroines are a generational wealth to the spirit world, just as much as living war veterans are the same to the Second Republic.
Lest we forget, many war veterans testify that they survived enemy attacks by hiding or sleeping in caves. Sed quia