ANDREW MUKOMA writes
IT is a well-established fact that Zambia’s prestigious natural wonder, the Victoria Falls, also known as Mosi-Oa-Tunya locally, is one of the world’s seventh wonder.
Lately, it has become increasingly common and an order of the day for Southern Province Minister Dr Edify Hamukale to welcome visitors and delegates who travel from different parts of the world and hold meetings in Livingstone with a greeting saying “I greet you all in the name of the Victoria Falls”.
This kind of greeting has elated many visitors and has made them feel at home as a saying goes; ‘Zambians are friendly people’.
For the people of Livingstone, they often believe that for one to appreciate the tourist capital, one must visit the Victoria Falls and have a glimpse of it and appreciates its beauty.
In June 2017 during her visit to the Victoria Falls, ‘the thunder that smokes’ for the first time, Ghanaian First Lady Rebecca Akufo- Addo was stunned with the view of this beautiful heritage site.
And in her own words she said, “I think it is the most beautiful site. It is truly one of God’s wonders and I have enjoyed it. I would say to all Ghanaians who can afford it, come and see this amazing site,
“It is my first time here. I have seen something extraordinary especially, the nature around it, and all the animals that you can come across,” said the joyful first lady.
Ms. Addo acknowledged this beauty by making a confession that she has been to the Niagara Falls in Canada, but that it cannot be compared to the Victoria Falls.
There and then Ms Addo committed herself that as she goes back to her country of origin, Ghana, she was going to market the Victoria Falls and encourage her fellow Ghanaians to visit Zambia and see the falls.
On that account, it will be speculative for one to suggest that her commitment has not been honoured because it is two years down the line since her visit and we have continued to see tourists trooping into Livingstone to see the ‘mighty’ Victoria Falls and some of those tourists might be from Ghana.
It is always the case with people who visit the Victoria Falls for the first time that they want to keep the falls in their minds or as a dream.
This is the exactly dream the Indian President Mr. Shri Ram Bath Konvid had which came true last year in May 2018 when he finally saw the falls with his own eyes.
He took advantage of his State visit to Zambia by visiting the dream site of his life and it paid off.
“I ve seen it with my own eyes the great and mighty Victoria Falls. I used to learn about it and read about it during my student years and through my dedicated theme to see and visit the Victoria Falls, I am very happy,” Mr. Konvid said
To those that do not know and have never visited the mighty Victoria Falls, here is what you need to know about this heritage site.
Dr David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls on 16 November 1855, from what is now known as Livingstone Island, one of two land masses in the middle of the river, immediately upstream from the falls near the Zambian shore.
He named his discovery in honour of Queen Victoria of Britain, but the indigenous Lozi people call it, Mosi-oa-Tunya—”The Smoke That Thunders” while the Toka Leyas know it as Shungu Namutitima.
Dr Livingstone described in 1855 the Victoria Falls as “scenes so beautiful, must have been gazed upon by angels in flight”.
The nearby national park in Livingstone is named Mosi-oa-Tunya, whereas the national park and town on the Zimbabwean shore are both named Victoria Falls.
While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest, based on its combined width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 metres (354 ft), resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water.
The falls are formed as the full width of the river plummets in a single vertical drop into a transverse chasm 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) wide, carved by its waters along a fracture zone in the basalt plateau.
The depth of the chasm, called the First Gorge, varies from 80 metres (260 ft) at its western end to 108 metres (354 ft) in the centre. The only outlet to the First Gorge is a 110-metre (360 ft) wide gap about two-thirds of the way across the width of the falls from the western end. The whole volume of the river pours into the Victoria Falls gorges from this narrow cleft.
There are two islands on the crest of the falls that are large enough to divide the curtain of water even at full flood: Boaruka Island (or Cataract Island) near the western bank, and Livingstone Island near the middle—the point from which Livingstone first viewed the falls.
At less than full flood, additional islets divide the curtain of water into separate parallel streams.
The main streams are named, in order from Zimbabwe (west) to Zambia (east): Devil’s Cataract (called Leaping Water by some), Main Falls, Rainbow Falls (the highest) and the Eastern Cataract.
The Zambezi River, upstream from the falls, experiences a rainy season from late November to early April, and a dry season in the rest of the year.
The river’s annual flood season is February to May with a peak in April, the spray from the falls typically rises to a height of over 400 metres (1,300 ft), and sometimes even twice as high, and is visible from up to 48 km (30 miles) away.
This is not all about the Victoria Falls, it further has other best points such as the Knife Edge Bridge, Boiling Point and the Devil’s Pool that are sites to any visitor.
Usually, the Victoria Falls records many of visitors during its peak season which translates into thousands annually and also contributes heavily to the country’s economic development.
2019 is yet another year that will put the amazing Victoria Falls at the centre stage of much anticipated hosting of the first ever Southern Province Investment and Business Expo.
Since preparations for this event have already started, all we can wish for is a successful hosting of this event and sightseeing of the world-famous falls.