Victoria Falls is undoubtedly a wonder of the world. It is a marvel to behold and not surprisingly has attracted millions from across the globe to the borders of Zimbabwe. I recently had the privilege to travel there for an awe inspiring experience and it will remain indelible in my mind. I was in the rain forest, drenched by the mists of the cascading mass of river water that dipped into the chasms and gorges of the mighty Zambezi. In the smoke I was lost, inspired and for a moment I felt I was flying. It was so beautiful to watch and given the chance I would return to that place again and again.
Unfortunately children born by the waters of Zambezi are not so privileged. They live is spitting distance of the Victoria Falls, but have never beheld the mesmerizing wonder of their motherland. I spoke to many of the children there and they told me they have never been in to the rain forest that runs along the banks of Zambezi.
Zimbabwe’s National Parks and Wildlife fees are beyond most of this town’s residents. It costs $7 for locals to get to Mosi O Tunya (The Smoke that Thunders). For many people $7 might seem peanuts, but for the local population, mainly made up of Tonga people, Victoria Falls prices in the shops are far higher than anywhere else in the country because of the influx of rich tourists, therefore $7 is just too much to part with.
An old man asked me the wisdom of paying $7 to watch water instead of paying school fees. Indeed nobody in their senses would prioritise sight-seeing over a stomach rumbling with hunger.
Victoria Falls is a world of two realities, poverty and teeming tourism.
Even though the place is world famous, the people are poverty stricken, and one has to ask the question why the money generated there does not go into the local community. But it is always the same question in Zimbabwe, and my heartstrings were saddened by the conflicting reality in Victoria Falls.