Ever wondered why black people don’t scuba dive at the Chinhoyi Caves? The stigma around water and swimming in the black community is real. We don’t have a huge marine presence, perhaps because of lack of representation in national swimming or at the Olympics. Or perhaps the widespread concern over damage to women’s hair, from chlorine in pools and salt in the sea. All things considered, there are more than a few reasons why black people don’t scuba dive in the deep dark of the Chinhoyi Caves.
The Chinhoyi Caves
The Chinhoyi Caves (previously the Sinoia Caves) are a group of limestone and dolomite caves in north central Zimbabwe. One of many legends that surrounds the Caves, and inspires their name, involves Chinhoyi, a Headman who defeated and killed the Nyamakwere outlaws. The outlaws used the Caves as their stronghold and murdered many victims by throwing them into the Silent Pool. After defeating the outlaws, Chinhoyi became the Chief who used the Caves to keep his people safe from raiding tribes.
Chirorodziva; Pool of the Fallen
Traditionally, the Chinhoyi Caves are called “Chirorodziva”, which means the “Pool of the Fallen”. The name, it’s believed, was inspired by an incident involving the Nguni Tribe in the 1830s. While moving northwards, the Tribe surprised a group of Shona tribe heroes, who were living near the Caves. The Nguni raiders flung them to their deaths, inspiring the oral tradition that whispers of the bones of the fallen that are believed to still cover the bottom of the Pool.
In the time of the Ndebele raids when Mzilikazi sent his regiments north and east in search of cattle and later in the days of Lobengula, even kraals set upon hills were not safe from these raiders, so Chief Chinhoyi descended from the hill-top with his people and built his kraal close to the entrance of Chirorodziwa. When Chinhoyi’s scouts spotted the Ndebele in the neighborhood, the chief gathered his people and led them down into the cave. Down in the cave nearly 300 people listened fearfully for the sound of the Ndebele, they drank at the silent pool, but they never bathed in it for fear of the monster lurking in its depths. When the Ndebele raiders moved on, Chinhoyi’s people returned to their normal lives.