The road south out of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, is long and dusty. Our guide, Tsuri, drives my wife and I ever southward in the dawn light, before the African sun reaches its full power. We drive past reclaimed white farms and Shona villages and rounded kopje boulders (Dutch for “little head”) set amid maize fields, past rivers and thorn-clad acacias, past vervet monkeys sitting atop fence posts, past small girls offering honey for sale by the side of the road, past the steady stream of buses shuttling Zimbabwe’s diaspora workers home from South Africa.
Our goal is four hours away, an immense stone city once home to a line of powerful and wealthy kings. Great Zimbabwe, as the site is known, is the largest set of stone ruins in sub-Saharan Africa—so large and intricate that when Europeans first began archaeological investigation, they simply could not believe that the ancestors of the local Shona were the builders.
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