Khami Ruins National Monument comprises the archaeological site of the next capital after the abandonement of Great Zimbabwe.
Khami grew between 1450 and 1650. It has the same lay-out in sectors, between the chief's residence and a spread out area with huts for the common population. Imported goods like Ming porcelain and Spanish silverware were found, which hint on wide range trading contacts.
Map of Khami RuinsLoad map
We visited Khami in 1990, on a day trip from Bulawyo (hitching). It was great to be alone at the site - there weren't even staff there to take payment and to walk around with no guides(people ,signs or maps). but it did mean we didn't have much information on what we were seeing.
We also hitched to a round church in a local village with lots of murals - biblical stories but where all the key figures were African - it was this which was the highlight of the day ( I wonder if the church is still there? )
i think that Khami Ruins is worth a visit. Khami also has a larger number of walls with decoration than Great Zimbabwe, the most common forms being a check pattern and lines of darker dolerite stones. Despite these architectural differences, Khami clearly belongs to the same cultural tradition as Great Zimbabwe. At both sites the stone structures were associated with status and prestige while the majority of the population lived in huts outside the stone walling.
There is a website that gives some nice pictures about the Khami ruins, (its more or less a virtual visit) http://www.bulawayo1872.com/pics/khamiruins1.htm
If you are in Bulawayo, or the vicinity i would strongly recommend a Visit to the Khami Ruins.
It is perhaps a bit surprising that both Great Zimbabwe AND Khami ruins are registered as separate WHS. They are however from different, albeit related, cultures. Historically the former preceded the latter. My personal view is that, unless you are either a “WHS nut” or particularly interested in pre-colonial African ruins/history then you should concentrate your efforts on getting to Great Zimbabwe and give Khami a miss.
If you are in Bulawayo then Khami is only 22kms away but you will need your own transport or have to pay for a tour and the entrance fees for foreigners reflect a certain lack of realism as to the value of what is “on offer”.
Khami is a court complex of the Torwa state from around the 15th century. Like all “Zimbabwes” the palace is built on a hill and a number of stone walls from the structures partially remain. I didn’t personally didn’t find it a particularly worthwhile place to visit.
A few miles away however the ruins of Naletale were in a totally different class. Not only was there no entrance hassle, the site offered complete peace and the most wonderful patterned brick/stonework – far better than you will see at either Great Zimbabwe or Khami. There are apparently 5 types of pattern and Naletale has fine examples of all of them. From a distance it looks like a tapestry in stone. Look at a photo at http://www.geocities.com/thetropics/island/6697/africa9899/pic10.html
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- Khami Ruins National Monument
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- Archaeological site - Civilizations of Sub-Saharan Africa
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