BY SUKUOLUHLE NDLOVU
Great Zimbabwe officials confirmed to The Standard that tourists were flocking to the world heritage site not just to see the ancient ruins, but to lay their hands on a herb renowned for its sex-enhancing properties.
The herb has its origins from a tree perched atop the hill complex of the Great Zimbabwe, a few metres from where the rulers of the fallen empire sat presiding over their court, 250 metres above the ground.
The greyish tree, which has an astounding ability to break through and grow out of granite rock almost sky high, is unlike any of the ordinary species found in the African Savanna.
Great Zimbabwe officials say the mystery of the tree, dubbed Muchemedzambuya, whose dead root protrudes three metres above the ground, is as old as the monuments themselves.
“The story of the Great Zimbabwe is not complete without the mention of Muchemedzambuya,” said Tichatonga Nhutsve, an animated tour guide whose deep knowledge of Great Zimbabwe was evident as he spoke.
“The royal family was polygamous and that time having many children was a status symbol. So, as part of pledging their loyalty, provincial chiefs would send virgins to the king. But then, what use was it to have so many wives when you produced few children?”
Muchemedzambuya, translated to mean “make a grandmother cry in bed”, is the African equivalent of Viagra that helps to stimulate feeble men in bed so they can sexually satisfy their women. But there were no weak men residing atop the Great Zimbabwe that time; ruling as many as 20 000 people. The only issue was that the old king, as the Portuguese records show, had 200 faithful wives who looked up to him for sexual gratification.
Despite having such outrageous polygamy, by today’s standards, the king is said to have been able to satisfy them all, courtesy of the herb made from the bark of the Muchemedzambuya tree.
“The root of this tree made their seed very powerful; hence they could bear many children,” said Nhutsve.
But, as is always the case, no secret — no matter how ancient — lasts forever. Word leaked that the tree provided a remedy to men with erectile problems and tourists who climbed 250 metres above the ground over the years secretly cut the root and took its pieces away.
Although the National Monuments and Museums of Zimbabwe has since banned tourists from further laying their hands on about 45 centimetres of what is left of the dead wood, the damage has already been inflicted on the precious tree.
However, tourists who are now flocking to Great Zimbabwe can get Muchemedzambuya, which is now being officially extracted from similar trees found in the sprawling 800 hectare estate. A spoonful of the powder is sold for $1 at the Shona Village, which portrays the way of life of the indigenous people.
Here Mbuya Mujena, a traditional healer and foreteller, welcomes visitors with an infectious smile in the pole and dagga hut where she plies her trade.
“We may not want to talk about it, but today’s men are weak. They have no power in the bedroom and their women feel very disappointed by their performance,” she said.
“This medicine gives them strength, the way it did to kings who ruled this place long ago.
“Just half a teaspoon is enough and you can restore the smile on your woman’s face.”
The traditional healer said the medicine was much sought after even by European tourists who wanted to improve their virility. Due to demand from women, a sex enhancer has been found for them as well.
“There are women whose bodies are as cold as snakes. That obviously won’t help in stimulating their men. So we give them Muchemedzasekuru. They put it in porridge or tea without milk, and this helps a lot,” Mbuya Mujena said.
She said from experience, these concoctions were helping husbands and wives to stick together, no wonder they were very popular.
“When a man is weak in bed and the woman’s body is unresponsive, what do you expect? Divorce,” she said.
As a result of its popularity, visits to the Shona village have increased by 100% from foreign tourists from places like USA, Spain and UK while local tourist arrivals at the site sits at 90%, according to Lovemore Mandima, the Southern Region director for the National Museums and Monuments in the Heritage Ministry.
Mandima said that even foreign tourists bought the African powder which has given the Shona Village new prominence.