Binga traditional leaders say the demise of the once magnificent Binga hot springs was caused by human activities that offended ancestors.
The hot springs located about 6km from Binga centre on the edge of Lake Kariba are now not as good as before.
The hot water used to spout to about two metres high and flow down the rocky terrain towards the lake but now hardly rises above the ground.
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) fenced off the place to protect the hot springs but locals believe the move angered the ancestors.
The local community used to conduct traditional rain-making ceremonies and other rituals at the site but these stopped when Zimparks fenced the area a few years ago.
Locals also said the place has been converted into a haven for immoral activities while others conduct private rituals which are not in tandem with Tonga culture.
The place around the hot springs is reportedly littered with various kinds of garbage such as broken egg shells, bottles and condoms.
Chief Sinansengwe of Binga said the hot springs have lost significance. He said:
The hot springs are no longer the same since they were taken away from traditional leaders who are no longer allowed to conduct traditional ceremonies there.
That place is cultural and should be returned to traditional leaders who know its sanctity.
There are traditional practices that were performed there which appeased ancestors and that brought blessings to the whole community.
Chief Siansali whose area also has a hot spring in Lubimbi and cold spring in Kariangwe corroborated Chief Sinansengwe’s claims.
He said the late Chief Sikalenge’s family was the one in charge of the hot springs.
He further claimed that during rainmaking ceremonies at the hot springs a traditional healer would disappear into thin air and on reappearing, would be carrying various kinds of crop produce.
He said that was a sign of crops to be grown that particular year.
When the traditional healer re-appeared with nothing or a few things in his hands, villagers knew that drought was looming and the community would prepare for it. Added Chief Siansali:
Water used to gush out to the height of a person but that is no longer happening because of interference with culture and the water is slowly disappearing.
This was a sacred place where rainmaking ceremonies and rituals were conducted led by Chief Sikalenge’s family.
He said there it is still possible to approach the family and appease the spirits.
In Zimbabwe, the hottest springs are in Binga near Lake Kariba where the water reaches 90 degrees celsius, Lubimbi, also in Binga District near the Gwayi River and Rupisi in Manicaland.