Great Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Kasubi Tombs, Uganda

Great Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe


It is my singular honour and pleasure to heartily invite you to the ICOMOS 14th General Assembly and Scientific Symposium scheduled for 27 - 31 October 2003. Allow me to take this privilege to introduce you to Zimbabwe, the country.

The name Zimbabwe is an abridged Shona word for Zimba Remabwe (big house of stone), a term usually referring to a royal residence. The Great Zimbabwe (12th –15th century settlement complex), after which the country is named is one of the most outstanding examples of such architectural / archaeological and intangible heritage. The intangible heritage associated with the Victoria Falls/Mosi-oa-Tunya and maDzimbabwes befits the theme of the Symposium: "Place - Memory - Meaning: Preserving Intangible Values in Monuments and Sites."

The country covers an area of 390,245 square kilometres located in south-central Africa between the Limpopo and Zambezi valley. Bordered by Zambia to the north and north-west, by South Africa to the south, by Mozambique to the east and north-east and by Botswana to the south-west, it is thus land-locked. With a population of 12 million, Zimbabwe has several languages of which English, Shona and Ndebele are the main languages. English is the official language of communication. Because the whole country lies above 300 metres above sea level (the highest point is 2592 metres in the Eastern Highlands), Zimbabwe has a wonderful climate - warm without being oppressive and with daily average sunshine of 7 hours throughout the year. The period of the 14th General Assembly is however very hot and dry with the lowveld areas, in particular the Victoria Falls / Zambezi valley, recording temperatures in excess of 30°C.

At no time have we ever underestimated the challenge that goes with hosting this historic General Assembly, which only for the second time is coming to the Southern Hemisphere (the first time being in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1993) and for the first time coming to the African continent.

The significance of this historicity will not be lost to all, certainly not to us as the hosts. It behoves us, on behalf of Africa and the international community at large, to make the 14th General Assembly a memorable one. We are pleased that in that endeavour we have had the unflinching support of all ICOMOS National Committees as well as International Scientific Committees and individuals and organisations.

Initially it was intended to have the General Assembly and the International Scientific Symposium in Harare but in the interests of all and for delegates and accompanying persons to fully enjoy what Zimbabwe has to offer, we finally opted for the Victoria Falls / Mosi-oa-Tunya World Heritage site, erroneously but not without reason referred to by the tourism industry as “one of the seven wonders of the world”. While it is unfortunately not one of the seven ancient wonders (for the Ancient Greeks had not ventured that far south) your experience will leave you in no doubt that this site is one of the wonders of the world today and thus an ideal venue.

The Conference venue itself, Intercontinental Elephant Hills Hotel, was host to the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government (CHOGM) in 1995 and to other well-esteemed gatherings. During 2002 the hotel was extensively revamped and now boasts being one of the most prestigious state of the art hotel and conference centres. Victoria Falls is directly accessible from London, Johannesburg, Harare, Gaberone and indirectly via Harare and Lusaka (Zambia) and has an added advantage of being part of day excursions into Zambia, Botswana and Namibia. The world famous Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe) and Chobe National Park (Botswana) are within an hour's drive from the Victoria Falls.

This message is the original text from the late President of ICOMOS Zimbabwe, Tafirenyika Masona, who passed away on 13 April 2003. In his memory, ICOMOS Zimbabwe continues to extend to you its most cordial invitation and hopes to make this General Assembly a great success.

Dr. Godfrey Mahachi
Chairman of the Organising Committee
ICOMOS Zimbabwe


Dernière mise à jour: 05/06/2003