There are over 30 hot springs in Zimbabwe where hot water springs from the ground.
Geologists believe that natural hot springs are where water seeps into areas of volcanic activity in the earth’s crust and is superheated before forcing its way to the surface.
Countries known for their beautiful hot springs where people enjoy hot baths include Japan, Iceland, Antarctica, Peru, Taiwan, United States, Canada, New Zealand, Chile, and the Kingdom -United.
In Zimbabwe, the hottest springs are found at Binga on the shores of Lake Kariba where the water reaches 90 degrees Celsius, at Lubimbi in the same district near the Gwayi River and at Rupisi in Manicaland.
The water appears to boil as gas bubbles are released, showing clouds of steam.
The water from the hot springs is believed to have healing properties and in some countries people travel to swim or bathe in the waters believing it will cure skin diseases, back pain and swollen legs, among others, although there is no known scientific research for proof.
Part of the belief is that when visiting these places for bathing or any other ritual, soaps or perfumes are not allowed as it may offend the ancestors.
People often toss coins into the waters believing that their wish will be granted.
However, the once magnificent Binga Hot Springs, located about 6 km from the center of Binga on Lake Kariba, are now a pale shadow of what they used to be.
The hot water was gushing up to about two meters high and flowing along the rocky terrain towards the lake, but now it barely rises above the ground.
Locals believe that the ancestors are offended by human activities.
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) has fenced the place to protect the hot springs, which locals say has contributed to the violation of the place.
The local community has maintained the sanctity of the place through the generations and used to hold traditional rain ceremonies and other rituals at the site.
They told Chronicle the practice stopped when ZimParks fenced off the area a few years ago.
Some claim that people use the place for picnics and as a refuge for immoral activities, while others conduct private rituals that do not fit with Tongan culture.
The place is littered with various trash such as broken eggshells, bottles and condoms.
Some even now keep livestock there.
Chief Sinansengwe of Binga said the hot springs had lost their importance.
“The hot springs are no longer the same since they were taken away from traditional chiefs who are no longer allowed to conduct traditional ceremonies there.
This place is cultural and should be returned to traditional leaders who know its sacredness.
There are traditional practices that were practiced there that appeased the ancestors and brought blessings to the whole community,” said Chief Sinansengwe whose area borders the center of Binga.
Chief Siansali, whose area also has a hot spring in Lubimbi and a cold spring in Kariangwe, confirmed, saying that the late family of Chief Sikalenge was responsible for the hot springs.
He said that during hot spring rain ceremonies, a sangoma would vanish into thin air and upon reappearing, would carry various kinds of agricultural produce and it was a sign of crops to be grown in that year.
When the sangoma returned empty-handed or with some belongings, it meant drought and the community would prepare for it.
“The water was gushing out at the height of a person, but this is no longer happening due to interference with the crop and the water is slowly disappearing.
It was a sacred place where ceremonies and rain rituals were conducted by the family of Chief Sikalenge,” Chief Siansali said.
He said there was still room to approach the family and appease the spirits.
Chief Siansali said the hot springs can be a viable tourist attraction.
“People can come and watch traditional rituals and it can promote our culture.
In Zambia, the Lozi people still do the Kuwomboka ceremony and their culture is still intact,” he said.
He said the little-known Lubimbi hot springs are a source of irrigation water for the villagers as they flow into a perennial stream from where the community fetches water.
He said the Kariangwe cold spring is used for domestic purposes and is also sacred.
A non-governmental organization (NGO) once tried to connect pipes to redirect water seeping from a mountain but it stopped coming out, Chief Siansali said.
He said that after consultation with the locals, the NGO put a tap for the villagers to fetch water and the water flowed continuously from the tap.
Chief Siansali said the Binga community naturally respects culture but lamented the deliberate violation of culture by some elements who hide behind the constitution claiming to have freedom of worship.
The Binga community wishes to be consulted before any development.