The stepped architecture of the Danan'ombe Zimbabwe looks like the Stepped Pyramid of Djesora Mucherechedzi at Sakara. The Danan'ombe edifice is said to have been the residence of one of the Amunhumutapa emperors. This may very well be true but the stepped shape of the remaining part of the ruined structure does pique one's curiosity particularly the use of these monuments possibly having being designed to enable the spirit of the kings to ascend to heaven to join their ancestors. What I know is that we have stories of historical events that seem to capture the essence of people who were desirous to climb stairs or ladders to the heavens.
One such story talks about an emperor who asked people to build a ndasva, that is a ladder, to heaven but is collapsed with catastrophic results. There was another story that also talked of an emperor who conscripted people to dig up a mountain and move it to the imperial court. Yet again, the mountain collapsed. Inevitably, a lot of people died.
In modern parlance, we talk about ndasva and aspirations to climb to the moon to haul it back but it may actually have had a deeper meaning, a meaning possibly no longer part of our memory, than what hear today. Going to the moon might have meant going to heaven, a place that was said to be accessible in a physical sense, to be with adzimu, or gods, to use the Western rendition of the name of the deified ancestors.
Interestingly, as you duly noted by Sapitwa Healer Osiris, the ancient Egyptians did have the same notions, the reason they build the colossal edifices like Mucherechedzi's￼; ndasva murui, the Stepped Pyramid, and Makare's immaculate temple in the Ta-Apat (Dza-Apasi?) white (Machena) hills that has an incredible ndasva. These pyramids were called mirui, artificial mountains, so to speak. They were built at great cost, particularly in terms of human life. The stories have quite uncanny resemblance to the stories some of us grew up hearing from our elders, the tragic story of the ndasva that collapsed.
Seanofura attempted to build a massive pyramid but it ended up collapsing in a manner that is reminiscent of the stories of the catastrophic ndasva. Because his initial design was stepped, or of the ndasva design, when he tried to smoothen the side using loose blocks of stone, sheer gravity forced the pyramid to collapse. Much like in the ndasva stories, a lot of people died.
Seanofura's son, Modjaji Chiname Chufu, went on to build one of the three pyramids of Giza. A lot of labour was required, so historians tell us. It is possible that ordinary people were conscripted. The people were said to have greatly suffered until the priesthood based at Unu decided to intervene. One such priest was invited to Chufu's court because the king was said to have been under stress and therefore in dire need of solace and relief --- it is possible that the loss of life at his project was haunting him given that the ancient Egyptians had the concept that said that the people who had perished unjustly sought justice from beyond the grave. The priest told Chufu that the nation was going to have a new line of kings.
Displeased by the promised end of his family's grip on power, Chufu requested to know the location of the new line of kings not because he wanted to worship them but to get rid of the children who were going to rule the nation as a new dynasty. Fascinatingly, this story resembles the incident at Herod's court when he heard about the birth of Jesus. However, the point that historians have stressed is that the priesthood wanted to put an end to the suffering of the people that may have started with Seanofura's catastrophic projects.
Much like the termination of Seanofura-Chufu￼; dynasty, the stories of the ndasva-building￼; emperors ended up with the demise of the ruling familes' power. This is captured in the aphorism that says Varozvi vakapera nendasva, a condensed and therefore memorable summation of the tragic history of the construction of stepped edifices that were mean to be staircases to the land of adzimu, and how the Rozvi lost their [truncated by WhatsApp]