“Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social well-being, and exercise environmental stewardship”BAN KI MOON
Employment Through Tourism
As a town predominantly focused on tourism, Victoria Falls has historically provided growth in terms of job creation and income for local communities. Pre COVID-19 employment through tourism in and around Victoria Falls accounted for an estimated 85% direct tourism employment with a balance of 15% in downstream tourism support or related sectors.
Tourism in the region plays a vital a role in facilitating community development through infrastructural development, business mentoring and educational opportunities, all of which contribute to local communities in increasing skill and knowledge as well as improving the socio-economic status of the community.
During crisis situations such as drought, and the current COVID-19 pandemic, key tourism businesses and partners play a vital role in offering essential support to the surrounding communities, such as food security, health and safety awareness, providing access to clean water etc.
The Victoria Falls area is rich in stone age artifacts; weapons, ornaments and other tools from the era suggesting that there were healthy populations of the Homo habilis in the area dating as far back as three million years although the majority of the artifacts are from approximately 50,000 years ago.
Arab slave traders, who operated throughout the interior of Southern-Africa from the 1200's referred to the waterfall as the "end of the world". Centuries later in 1715 a map produced by French cartogrpaher Nicolas de Fer, indicated the presence of cataracts at the point where the Victoria Falls are located although they only rose to fame once David Livingstone 'discovered' them a century later, even though he was already aware of their existence.
The first Bantu inhabitants of the region were the ancestors of the Tonga people, believed to have migrated from the equatorial forests of the Congo Basin, probably reaching the Zambezi Valley via Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa sometime around the fifteenth or sixteenth century. Despite their de-centralised and less warlike society, making them easy targets for more aggressive tribes, their descendants still live along the banks of the Zambezi above and below the Victoria Falls.
Towards the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries other Bantu peoples migrated south from their original homelands in the southern Congo Basin. The earliest of these tribes to arrive, following the Batonga, was the Toka-Leya, under Chief Mukuni. The word ‘Leya’ means ‘to keep out of troubles’ and the explanation is given that Mukuni led off a number of his followers and settled in the country on both banks of the river above and below the Victoria Falls.
The political organisation of the Lozi Tribe has long centred on a monarchy, whose reigning head, the Paramount King, is known as 'Litunga' which means 'keeper of the earth. Early Lozi oral tradition states that they have always inhabited the area along the Zambezi River from the Victoria Falls upstream, eastwards up the Chobe river floodplain in Botswana, to the Barotse Floodplain in North-western Zambia.
After the fall of Great Zimbabwe Empire in the 15th century, a sub-chief by the name Sahwanga left for present day Hwange National Park with a small group of followers where they established their new home made of stone structures, similar to those found at Great Zimbabwe. By the 1800's their numbers had grown and they occupied land along all the major rivers in the arid area between Hwange and Victoria Falls.
In the 1830's an army that originated in the Tswana-speaking Bafokeng region of South Africa, known as the Makololo, led by a warrior called Sebetwane, invaded Barotseland and conquered the Lozi. Sebetwane and David Livingstone forged a strong friendship and it was the Makololo people that led Livingstone to the Victoria Falls in 1855. In 1864 a Lozi revolt resulted in the Makololo being overthrown and scattering.
The Ndebele, a branch of the Zulu who rebelled against King Shaka in the early 1820's and moved North through present day Botswana and into Zimbabwe. Led by Mzilikazi, the Ndebele swiftly overpowered the Nambya tribe and while exploring their new domain, which included the lands dropping down from the northern edge of the present-day Hwange National Park, down into the Zambezi valley, had their first sight of the Zambezi River and the falls which they named aManza Thunqayo - ‘the water which rises like smoke’.