Zanzibar's doorways reveal a glimpse into its slave trade past
Robert Remington , Calgary Herald
It was certainly effective, but not the best thing for employee morale. So impressed was he by the intricate wooden door the Indian carver had made for his palace that the ruling sultan promptly ordered the poor fellow's hands be lopped off.
Thus, the sultan prevented the carver from replicating his work of art and was able to lay claim to having the grandest door in all of Zanzibar.
Whether the legend is true could not be confirmed. But Moses, our affable guide, said it was so. It seems like the kind of thing that might happen in a slave trading colony where up to 50 African men and women at a time were packed into small subterranean cells before being tied to a whipping post in the town square and flogged prior to being auctioned off.
Brass ornamental spikes indicate a door of Indian origin and are said to be a safeguard against the ramming power of elephants. Twenty years ago there were about 800 carved doors in Stone Town, but that number has dropped significantly.
The oldest door discovered in Zanzibar is dated 1694.
Brass ornamental spikes indicate a door of Indian origin and are said to be a safeguard against the ramming power of elephants. Twenty years ago there were about 800 carved doors in Stone Town, but that number has dropped significantly. The oldest door discovered in Zanzibar is dated 1694.
Robert Remington/Calgary Herald
To cry out was a sign of weakness, which meant a low price and banishment to the lower rungs of slave society, provided you survived the whipping. A society that valued human life so little was certainly capable of sawing off a hand or two.
Today, a church stands on the site of the old slave market in Stone Town, the historic capital of this exotic island in the Indian Ocean. The whipping post still survives behind the altar as a reminder of the island's grim past, and beneath the church it is possible to make your way into the underground slave holding cells, where the only fresh air came from two small slits in the walls.
About 50,000 African slaves passed through Stone Town each year, part of the estimated 11 to 18 million black African slaves that were sent to the Byzantine Empire and Muslim world from 650 to 1900 -- a worse record than the 9.4 to 14 million Africans brought to the Americas in the Atlantic slave trade.
As with most grand or public buildings in Stone Town, visitors enter the church through a large, carved wooden door, similar to the one that cost the Indian carver his hands.
These remarkable carved doors, each an individual work of art, are a symbol of Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its narrow, labyrinthine alleyways, white sand beaches and intoxicating blend of Arabic and African culture.
The town, with buildings built of coral stone and lime, is on the brink of decay. Many of its beautiful doors are weathered and rotting, too.
The little money that exists for restoration comes from outside donors and organizations like the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which is spending $2.2 million on a major restoration project in the heart of Stone Town.
Wooden doors were a sign of wealth and status for Stone Town's wealthy Indian merchants and ruling Arab elite, many of whom were sent to sea in rafts during the island's socialist revolution of 1964.
Doors were initially made of termite and weather-resistant teak, imported from India or the mainland, although many today are made of local hardwoods.
Often brightly painted in red or green, the large double doors typical of a courtyard entrance open inwards from the centre, with larger ones having smaller door insets to allow entry without having to open the huge gates.
Zanzibar's doorways reveal a glimpse into its slave trade past
Robert Remington , Calgary Herald
According to zanzibardoors.com, a company that specializes in recreating the historic features of the wooden doors of Zanzibar, carved designs have certain meanings:
"Foremost among these are the fish, fish scales and wavy lines, pointing to an important source of food for the Swahili people. A chain design is also incorporated, known to symbolize security.
"The lintel is often decorated with lotus and rosette flowers, indicative of Indian influences. The older lintels feature Qur'anic inscriptions, the name of the houseowner or artist, and the date of the carving. Designs also include frankincense and the date palm, indigenous to Somalia and Arabia, suggesting wealth. The most beautiful is the central post which is carved deeply with geometric and floral motifs. This is attached to the left door shutter, called the 'female door' in Swahili, and all sorts of gendered interpretations can be given."
Many doors have brass spikes, likely a modification of the Indian practice of studding doors with sharp spikes of iron to prevent their being battered in by war elephants. Marco Polo, who visited around 1295, recorded that Zanzibar island abounded in elephants.
None exist on the island today. The practice of studding doors with brass spikes continues purely for decoration.
An inventory done in the 1980s reported around 800 carved doors in Zanzibar with the oldest dated to 1694.
According to the most recent count, that number has declined to 560 due to decay and theft to satisfy demand from international collectors -- a sad commentary considering they can be bought locally for $400 or ordered online, albeit for a much higher price.
Zanzibardoors.com specializes in luxury hand-carved doors made of locally grown hardwoods. Prices start at $2,500 plus shipping.
The most elaborate building in Stone Town is the Beit al-Ajaib, or House of Wonder, built in 1883.
A former sultan's palace, it was given its nickname because it was the first to have running water and electricity and had the most carved doors -- 13 in total.
The House of Wonder later housed British bureaucrats, including an accountant who fathered a son named Farouk Bulsara, better known as the late Freddie Mercury, lead singer and front man for the band Queen. Zanzibar, with a predominantly conservative Muslim population, later turned its back on Mercury, who died of AIDS-related causes in 1991. In 2006, local Muslim leaders tried to ban a beach party held in honour of Queen's gay front man, who was born on the island in 1946.
Walking the narrow streets of Zanzibar is like navigating a maze. Lost, I encounter Paul, a local missionary, who helps me back to my hotel. With bearings now relatively intact, I explore shops filled with wood carvings, brass clocks, old maps, garments and spices.
But mostly I just walk, soaking in the hypnotic atmosphere, including a bustling market that operates on one of the few wide main streets in Stone Town.
Often chosen as an exotic honeymoon destination, Zanzibar is a place to chill. Luxury hotels with infinity pools overlook pristine white beaches lapped by a warm sea with amazing colour. It's possible to pass an afternoon simply watching wooden fishing dhows with their trademark triangular sails drift up and down the Zanzibar coast.
Zanzibar's doorways reveal a glimpse into its slave trade past
Robert Remington , Calgary Herald
Economy: Tourism is the main economic engine of Tanzania, valued at more than $1 billion annually, triple that of agriculture.
The recent political crisis in neighbouring Kenya, however, affected tourism in the entire region.
At the height of the crisis in January, the luxurious Kempinski Hotel on Zanzibar's northeast coast was like an opulent ghost town, with its sprawling, manicured grounds and pool area almost deserted.
The region saw tourism in the first quarter of this year cut in half, with most of that coming from relief workers travelling to Kenya.
Like the majority of people in East Africa, the average Zanzibari is poor. Most get by on an income of $1 to $2 a day.
Safety: Violence against tourists is low, but check travellers warnings on the Department of Foreign Affairs website at www.voyage.gc.ca/dest/ctry/reportpage-en.asp. Terrorist attacks by Islamic radical groups have occurred on Zanzibar, but are rare.
Use particular caution and heed travel warnings during local and national elections, when demonstrations can turn violent.
If You Go
- Return airfare from Calgary to Zanzibar starts at about $3,100. Zanzibar is often added as a two or three-day side trip to East African safaris.
- Rooms at the luxury Kempinski Hotel on the northeast coast and at the seaside Serena Hotel in the heart of Stone Town begin at $200 to $400 per night, depending on season. Budget accommodation can be found for about $100 per night.
- Once a separate nation, Zanzibar united with Tanganyika in 1963 to form Tanzania. Located 30 kilometres off the east coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean, it remains a semi-autonomous region of that East African nation.
- The island is accessible by boat and air. Airport arrivees are greeted by a sign in neatly trimmed vegetation that reads Smile Urin Zanzibar. Whether it's intentional Zanzibari humour or poor English is unclear.
- A tour of a local spice plantation is almost obligatory and costs about $20. You'll be asked to identify by smell various spices derived from plants in their natural state including ginger, tamarind, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and saffron.
- The Zanzibari population is predominantly Muslim. Be discreet with open displays of affection and ask before taking photographs of women.
- The shortest war in history, as verified by the Guinness Book of Records, was fought in Zanzibar in 1896. On Aug. 25, Sultan Hamid bin Thuwaini died; two hours later, a usurper broke into the palace and declared himself ruler. Three Royal Navy warships opened fire and in 45 minutes reduced the palace to rubble, deposing the usurper.
"During an official luncheon hosted by Zanzibar’s President His Excellency Abeid Amani Karume, the Ismaili leader described Zanzibar as a “cultural jewel” and expressed readiness to invest in rehabilitation of the Island’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, concentrated in the Old Stone Town."
Aga Khan’s Historic Cities Exhibition Concludes Its Vancouver Showing
VANCOUVER - While culture is often thought of as a “luxury”, particularly in the developing world, an Exhibition featuring the work of the Historic Cities Programme offers a perspective that looks at culture as an asset that can transform communities.
The Historic Cities Programme Exhibition, which concluded its Vancouver showing on Wednesday, is an international initiative of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture commemorating the Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan. It features five of the Trust's projects in Egypt, Syria, Mali, India, and Afghanistan, and provides a unique lens on the role of culture in development. During the Jubilee year, the Exhibition will tour cities in various countries around the world.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for Canada partnered with UBC, SFU and Centre A to present the Historic Cities Programme Seminar Series. The final installment of this series was held in conjunction with SFU’s Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures this Wednesday.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture is part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a group of development agencies with mandates ranging from health and education to architecture, culture, microfinance, disaster reduction, rural development, promotion of private-sector enterprise and the revitalization of historic cities. The work of AKDN is inspired by the ethics of Islam and seeks to uphold the dignity of humankind. His Highness the Aga Khan is Founder and Chairman of the Network. For more information on the AKDN, visit www.akdn.org
LONDON (December 04 2008): The Aga Khan Cultural Service, part of the Aga Khan Development Network, has won the award for, 'Best for Conservation of Cultural Heritage' at this year's Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards for its Shigar Fort - Palace restoration project in Pakistan.
At a ceremony hosted at World Travel Market (WTM), Docklands, London, in November, the Awards were handed out by Justin Francis, Managing Director of responsibletravel.com, organisers and founders of the Awards, and Amanda Wills, Managing Director of Virgin Holidays, headline sponsor of the Awards.
The judges said: "The sensitive restoration of this historic building and its development as a hotel has placed the property once again at the heart of the community as a cultural and economic asset bringing employment, microenterprise opportunities, and social and cultural empowerment for men and women." The hotel operations of Shigar Fort Residence are managed by Serena Hotels, Pakistan and the award was received by Azam Jamil (Corporate Director Sales and Marketing for Serena Hotels).-PR
The Art Institute of Chicago presents Cultural Conservation and Rehabilitation in Post-Conflict Afghanistan
March 6, 2009
Posted by ismailimail in Afghanistan, Art and Culture, Asia, Community Activities, Council sponsored, North America, Trust for Culture, United States.
March 28, 3 p.m. Fullerton Hall
Asian Art Council
In this special presentation, Ajmal Maiwandi will discuss the cultural conservation and rehabilitation projects currently under way by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Afghanistan. The rehabilitation of Bagh-e-Babur (laid out by the founder of the Mughal dynasty), the conservation of the Timur Shah Mausoleum in Kabul, and the extensive conservation and urban rehabilitation work that is under way in Herat will each be discussed.
Herat Castle renovation project
March 30, 2009
Posted by ismailimail in Afghanistan, Asia, Trust for Culture.
Afghan labourers work at the old castle in the old part of Herat city north east of Kabul, Afghanistan, 28 March 2009. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the United States, are renovating the old castle of Herat, as part of the conservation of historical places. EPA/JALIL REZAYEE
Cultural educational project Museum Saturday unfolds in Bishkek
02/04-2009 11:19, Bishkek – News Agency “24.kg”, By Aizada KUTUEVA
Presentation of Museum Saturday, a cultural and educational project unveiling history, culture, fine and musical art of Kyrgyzstan for children and students will be held at the Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Arts of Gapar Aitiev on 2 April, 2009.
The project is initiated by the Center of Traditional Music "Ustatshakirt" in collaboration with the Program to Support Art and Culture of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Kyrgyz Republic (SDC), Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia (АКMICA) Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and Gapar Aitiev's Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Arts.
Minister of Culture and Information of the Kyrgyz Republic Sultan Raev, Head of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Kyrgyz Republic Hanspeter Maag, Head of Aga Khan Development Network in Kyrgyz Republic Nurjehan Mawani and Director of National Museum of Fine Arts Dr. Shygaev are expected to make opening remarks.
ARCHAEOLOGY: EGYPT, SHOW CELEBRATES SPANISH INDIANA JONESES
(by Paola del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) - MADRID - The exhibition '120 Years of Spanish Archaeology in Egypt' at the Cairo Museum is celebrating Spanish real-life Indiana Joneses to highlight their contribution to the research on ancient Egyptian history covering over a century of excavations. The inauguration took place Monday in the presence of the Egyptian secretary of antiquities and eminent Egyptologist, Zahi Hawass, along with that of the Spanish Culture Minister, Cesar Antonio Molina, of the Order of Arts and Letters of Spain. The exhibition, until June 6, gathers 137 greatly valued pieces, of which at least one cannot be forgotten: the enormous statue of Khamarernebty, daughter of Keope, which recalls the campaign of excavations, pioneering in their time, carried out by Count Vicente of Galarza in Giza in 1907. Funerary objects, furnishings, sarcophagi, ceramics and sculptures are testimony to the commitment of Spanish archaeologists in bringing to light the grandiose treasures from the thousands of years of Egyptian civilisation, which began in 1886 with Eduard Toga i Guell with the excavations of the tomb of Sennedjem in Deir el Medina and the Theban necropolis of Luxor. The excavations have continued to the present day with the discovery of the tombs of Djehuty and Heri, again at the necropolis of Luxor, and the important discoveries that include the funeral chamber of the Pharaoh's high dignitary, with hieroglyphics, paintings and funerary jewellery. During the inauguration, Cesar Antonio Molina, quoted by the media, announced that the new Spanish Archaeology Institute in Cairo and the signing of the cooperation agreement between the Spanish National Library and the Library of Alexandria. The minister also announced the creation of a research and training centre in the Egyptian capital, promoted by the Superior Council of Scientific Investigation (CSIC), based on the kind that exists in Athens, Damascus, and Amman and that which has been proposed for Rome and Naples. The Spanish Institute o Archaeology will be hosted by a 450 square metre building, bought in 1991, which has already served as a logistical base for the Spanish mission to Herakleopolis Magna and other initiatives connected to the conservation and restoration of the Egyptian artistic patrimony. The restoration work, which will have a budget of 400,000 euros, will be completed in a year's time. The collaboration agreement between the Spanish National Library and the Library of Alexandria proposes the online cataloguing of its stock, the organisation of exhibitions and joint programmes for the conservation of its print heritage, including the training of librarians and specialised professionals. The exhibition '120 Years of Spanish Excavation in Egypt', which is being held in 44 rooms in the Cairo Museum, was organised by the institution itself, the Spanish Cultural Ministry, the Cervantes Institute, in collaboration with the Aga Khan Foundation. The teams of Spanish archaeologists and the directors of the excavations that have uncovered the mysteries of Herakleopolis Magna from the sands of the desert, as well as Oxirrinco and Dra Abu Naga which were headed by the curator of the show, Mari Carmen Perez Die. (ANSAmed).
Afghan Exhibit Brings to Texas Recently Rediscovered Gold, Artifacts
By Greg Flakus
13 April 2009
A traveling exhibit of precious art works from Afghanistan is currently at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, where it will remain until May 17. The exhibit, called "Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul," was organized by the National Geographic Society in cooperation with officials from Afghanistan. It contains many objects that have yet to be fully available in Afghanistan itself, partly because of the past 30 years of conflict.
Museum visitors are getting a view of Afghanistan that goes well beyond the daily headlines about war.
Afghan gold artifacts re-discovered in 2003
In this exhibit they can see the many historic and cultural influences brought to this land by Alexander the Great, the Persians, the Chinese and others.
Visitors like Dave Camp come away impressed, "I thought it was amazing; I thought it was fantastic. I loved it," he said. "I have never seen a mix of the Indian and Persian and Greek stuff combined in that way and it was fabulous."
A popular centerpiece of the exhibit is the display of gold artifacts, including this crown, that were part of the so-called "Bactrian Hoard." Archealogists had unearthed the hoard's more than 20,000 pieces in nomadic tombs in 1978. As war engulfed Afghanistan, museum officials hid the stash.
It was re-discovered in 2003.
Erlene Darilick came to see the gold, but found much more. "What surprised me was all the other things in the exhibit: the glass and the bronzes and ivories," Darilick said.
"I think in a multicultural, multireligious society like Afghanistan," he says, "culture is what binds people together."
One of the recent visitors to the museum in Houston was guest lecturer Ajmal Maiwandi, of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which is supporting restoration projects in Afghanistan. In his lecture, Maiwandi described the progress that has been made in restoring sites like Baghe Babur in Kabul.
He says preservation of historic sites must be accompanied by social projects to help the people who live nearby. "Living conditions have to be improved in order that the sense of ownership is transferred on to that community," he asked, "Who will then look after those projects? Down the line, one hopes that this exhibit can make it to Afghanistan and tour some of the cities of Afghanistan, where I think it is very important for people to realize their shared history and understand the depth and scope of the civilization."
The exhibit is on a tour of the U.S., moving on to New York after leaving Houston. Organizers say they look forward to a time when the riches of their nation's past can be safely put on display in Afghanistan.
Conservation work at Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya
April 23, 2009
Posted by ismailimail in Asia, Historic Cities Programme, India, Trust for Culture.
The conservation works at this baoli or stepwell is being carried out by Archaeological Survey of India, Aga Khan Trust for culture in partnership with Central Public Works Department, and Municipal Corporation of Delhi. Built by Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya in the years 1321-22, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s baoli or stepwell is the only stepwell in Delhi, India with underground springs and pure water and the water here is considered holy by a lot of pilgrims. EPA/ANINDITO MUKHERJEE
1. Indian workers carry out conservation work at Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s baoli or stepwell in New Delhi, India on 23 April 2009.
2. An elderly Indian woman and the caretaker of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s baoli or stepwell drinks water from the well as it is reopened in New Delhi, India on 23 April 2009.
3. Old coins found during the conservation work at Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s baoli or stepwell in New Delhi, India on 23 April 2009.
4. A general view of the conservation work at Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s baoli or stepwell in New Delhi, India on 23 April 2009.
5. An Indian worker carries out conservation work at Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s baoli or stepwell in New Delhi, India on 23 April 2009.
June 24th, 2009
Muslim trust restores Jewish sites in Afghanistan
Posted by: Tom Heneghan
Amid the glum news from Afghanistan, Golnar Motevalli of our Kabul bureau has sent this from Herat:
"Behind a parade of old mud brick shops, through narrow winding alleys, a tiny door opens onto a sundrenched courtyard, where school children giggle and play alongside the ghosts of Afghanistan's Jewish past.
The Yu Aw is one of four synagogues in the old quarter of Herat city in west Afghanistan, which after decades of abandonment and neglect, has been restored to provide desperately-needed space for an infant school."
(Photo: Afghan children study in Yu Aw synagogue in Herat, 8 June 2009/Mohammad Shoiab)
The restoration work has been done by the Agha Khan Trust for Culture. The city's three other former synagogues are also being restored. Read the feature here.
Afghanistan's Jewish community, once said to have numbered 40,000 or more, now consists of just one person, Zebolan Simanto. He receives a care package from New York every spring with matzos, grape juice and oil to conduct the Seder, the meal on the first evening of Passover.
(Photo: Zebolan Simanto in Kabul, 26 Jan 2005/Ahmad Masood)
There's a legend in Afghanistan that the Pashtun, the country's largest ethnic group, actually descended from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel. In this legend, the capital's name Kabul comes from "Cain and Abel" and many Pashtun tribe names had Jewish roots, as in Afridi (Ephraim), Yusufzai (Joseph) and Shinwari (Shimon). After the Taliban were overthrown in November 2001, this legend was mentioned so often on Jewish-interest websites that I looked into it during a reporting tour in Kabul in early 2002. After much asking around, I finally tracked down Abdul Shukoor Rishad, the doyen of Afghan historians, at his home in the dusty suburb of Khairkhana.
Rishad, who was 80 at the time, burst into a very un-Afghan fit of exasperation when I explained through an interpreter that I wanted to know about the legend of Jewish origins. Foreigners had been asking him this for decades, he complained, and he always told them there was nothing to the story. He said some of the Jews sent into captivity in Babylon were settled in present-day Iran. But he rejected claims that some then moved from there into parts of present-day Afghanistan.
Rishad was so convinced the legend had no basis in fact that he once turned down a large grant to research it further. "There is an association in California that is searching for the Lost Tribes," he said. "When I was there in 1995, they were ready to provide me enough money for a new study. I turned it down because the theory is wrong. Afghans are not Jewish."
Olaf Caroe, the British author of the authoritative history The Pathans (1958), called the legend "all great fun" but too riddled with inconsistencies to be true.
At Humayun's tomb, weight is off
Richi Verma, TNN 9 July 2009, 05:13am IST
NEW DELHI: In a unique initiative to restore the architectural integrity and historical significance of the 17th century Humayun's Tomb, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) have removed a thick layer of cement concrete from the mausoleum's roof that was putting a pressure of about 10 lakh kg on the structure.
According to experts, the British laid the cement concrete on the roof of the monument in 1920s to prevent water seepage. However, the layer blocked water drainage channels leading to heavy rainwater accumulation that caused considerable damage. "Instead of repairing the roof, the British simply added a heavy concrete layer on it. This led to a blockage in water passages. The rainwater accumulated on the roof caused severe damage to stonework in the monument as well as disfigurement of architectural elements,'' said a senior ASI official.
ASI director general K N Shrivastava said: "The extra cement was an unnecessary weight on the structure. Rather than laying this cement, the leakages in the roof-top should have been simply plugged. Removal of the concrete cement is an asset for the tomb.''
Removal of the lime concrete revealed hidden portions of the monument's roof steps, octagonal base of the dome, red sandstone plinths of chhatris etc. It also cleared the gutters to allow free passage of rainwater. "The tomb's roof has had several additional layers of lime concrete applied to it in the past century to prevent water ingress. This extra load caused severe stress and waterlogging with the original drains no longer functional,'' explained an official.
It took around eight months to remove the lime concrete. First, a 30cm-deep cut with a thickness of about 5mm was applied on a 1m grid. Specially imported tools were used to make 10cm-wide cuts on the entire roof surface and it took 30 craftsmen to remove the 50cm-thick concrete by hand tools. The concrete was dropped to the ground on temporary ramps set up at night after visiting hours to avoid any inconvenience to tourists. A traditional lime-based roof layer was finally laid out.
Now, the focus is to tender a similar treatment to the tomb's first chabutra (plinth). According to AKTC officials, the platform where the tomb stands was originally paved with large blocks of quartzite stone blocks, some of which weighed over a 1,000 kg. "In the 1940s, an uneven settlement in the lower plinth was corrected by covering it with a layer of concrete, but this wasn't how the Mughals intended it to be. Not only did this disfigure the original design but it was also historically inappropriate,'' said an official. Historian Zafar Hasan is said to have described the platform flooring as similar to that of the west gate of Humayun's Tomb. The concrete layer over the flooring will be removed in what is likely to be a long, tedious process.
Intach Delhi Chapter convenor AGK Menon, who reviewed the project some time back, said that removal of the concrete layer was critical as the building couldn't be overburdened. "Every time the roof would leak, a layer of concrete was added. Over time, it gained a thickness of about 40cm. It posed danger to the structure and obscured some historical levels on the roof. A historical building should remain as authentic as possible,'' he said.
The conservation work at Humayun's Tomb is part of a public-private partnership between ASI, AKTC, Central Public Works Department (CPWD), Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Aga Khan Foundation and has been partly funded by Sir Dorabji Tata Trust.
Forodhani restoration completed
By Bethuel Kinyori
The restoration of Forodhani Park in Zanzibar's historic stone town has been completed, thanks to a $2.4 million (over Sh3 billion) funding by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC)).
The popular outing place, one of the attractive features in the Isles will be inaugurated later this month.
The restoration project has transformed the historic park - one of the last open spaces in the densely populated world heritage site - and upgraded its social and recreational amenities.
Works carried out include the restoration of walk ways, landscape, infrastructure upgrading incorporating lighting, sewerage drainage and civic amenities and the rehabilitation of the seawall fronting the park.
Once a location for the main port and landing point for the sultans of Zanzibar, the park has over the years remained a central meeting place for leisure and entertainment.
The AKTC yesterday said over the last decade the park deteriorated due to over-use, prompting the restoration as part of a seafront upscaling in the stone town.
The agreement for the project was signed between President Amani Abeid Karume and His Highness the Aga Khan.
Also proposed, as part of the sea front up scaling is an Indian Ocean maritime museum that will showcase culture including displays of naval vessels, artifacts reflecting the historic, commercial and cultural contacts between Africa, Middle East and India.
The trust has also worked with the Government of Sweden and the Ford foundation to provide training workshops on conservation and traditional construction methods for architects.
The trust has been active in Zanzibar since 1989 and has successfully completed restoring eleven buildings in the stone town.
The AKTC is a part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), which over the last 20 years has championed efforts to integrate culture in the broader economic and social programmes.
US$ 2.4 million Revitalisation of Forodhani Park in Zanzibar’s Historic Stone Town Completed
Please also see the Brief: Stone Town Seafront Rehabilitation: Forodhani Park
Zanzibar, 29 July 2009 – The US$ 2.4 million restoration of Forodhani Park in Zanzibar’s Historic Stone Town has been completed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC).
The revitalisation project has transformed the heavily used park – one of the last open spaces in this densely populated World Heritage Site – and upgraded social and recreational amenities in the historic Park. Works included the restoration of the walkways, landscape improvements, infrastructure upgrading including lighting, sewage, drainage and civic amenities and the rehabilitation of the seawall fronting the Park.
The Park, once the location of the main port and a landing point for the former Sultans of Zanzibar has remained a central meeting place for civic discourse, leisure and entertainment.
In the last decade, stresses caused by the popularity of the Park took a toll. It was clear that an important part of the patrimony of Stone Town was in need of revitalisation. The rehabilitation project was first proposed by the Trust in 2001 as part of a programme for comprehensive seafront rehabilitation in Stone Town. It was intended to be a logical extension of the work already completed by AKTC in Kelele Square. Following meetings between President Amani Abeid Karume and His Highness the Aga Khan, agreements for the restoration of the Park were signed.
The Trust has been active in Zanzibar since 1989, successfully completing the restoration of the Old Dispensary, now renamed the Stone Town Cultural Centre, and the old Customs House, as well as the rehabilitation of Kelele Square. Eleven buildings in Stone Town – many of them on the point of collapse – were restored as part of a programme to show the building and restoration techniques needed to preserve this World Heritage Site. The Trust has also worked with the Government and international partners – such as the Government of Sweden and the Ford Foundation – to provide training workshops on conservation practice and traditional construction methods for craftsmen, building professionals and Government officers.
The creation of an Indian Ocean Maritime Museum is also proposed. The Museum will showcase the maritime cultures of the Indian Ocean, including the display of naval vessels and other artefacts that illustrate the history of the commercial and cultural contacts between Africa, the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent.
The restoration of Forodhani Park is intended to be part of a larger seafront rehabilitation programme, encompassing: construction of the seawall; underground infrastructure including water, sewer, storm and sewer lines; and, the creation of a pedestrian promenade, including planting, street lighting and street furniture along the sea side.
experts to help rehabilitate Lahore’s Walled City
By Intikhab Hanif
Monday, 27 Jul, 2009 | 10:22 AM PST | An aerial shot of Lahore's old Walled City —Satellite grab Media Gallery
Pakistan in pictures LAHORE: Foreign experts are reaching Lahore on August 7 to start making conceptual designs of underground services, facade rehabilitation and circular gardens, taking a step forward for the launch of the much-delayed work on the World Bank funded Walled City Development Project.
The authorities had earlier announced that they would start work on the dormant project in May this year. But this could not be done because of the reluctance of foreign consultants to stay in Lahore due to security concerns. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture also is providing financial and technical support for the project.
A consultant from Thailand already working on the project had also left because of the same reasons, said Lahore Walled City Development Project Director-General Oriya Maqbool Jan here on Sunday. He said the foreign experts were now reaching Lahore on Aug 7 to complete the conceptual designs in two months. ‘This is the major work left as we have already completed the entire survey of the Walled City and made the property ownership list,’ he said.
He said the previous administration of the project had laid underground sewerage pipelines and electricity lines inside Delhi Gate, but the donor agencies had found faults in the task. That’s why the foreign consultants had been engaged to prepare designs for the purpose afresh, he said.
Jan said other major homework had also been done during this time. ‘We have on Saturday asked the education department to shift its 13 schools from Circular Gardens in 15 days. Wasa too has been asked to immediately shift its 11 tube-wells during this period,’ he said.
He said there were 21 tube-wells in Circular Gardens and 14 of them would be shifted. Those allowed to be stayed would function according to the instructions from the project management so as to avoid any hurdle in the development of the historic Circular Gardens, he said.
He said the district government had been asked to acquire a building near the Taxali Gate’s cemetery to shift its school (near Bhati Gate) over there. This beautiful old building was on sale and could house the school which was being run by an NGO on a 20-year lease, he said.
Jan said the project management was shifting Badami Bagh’s bus stand to Thoker Niaz Beg and near the Saggian Bridge. It was also going to purchase land for Rs50 million near Thoker Niaz Beg for shifting Masti Gate’s Rim Market there.
A survey of the buildings outside Delhi Gate and assessment of their price had been completed. ‘We are going to demolish these buildings after paying the price to their owners to build single-storey markets for those running shops around Masjid Wazir Khan and Shahi Hamam,’ he said.
He said the administration was also asking Wapda to shift its installations from Circular Gardens. The previous management had allowed Wapda to build a grid station near Sheranwala Gate. Since Rs20 million had already been spent on the station, the project management was now buying the premises of a nearby closed flour mill at a cost of Rs160 million to shift it there.
The detailed design of the Greater Iqbal Park had been finalised and was awaiting a final approval by the chief minister.
Jan said as a first step towards the development of Circular Gardens, a boundary wall would be constructed on its inner side to prevent any future encroachments.
Historic Forodhani Park shines again, after $2m facelift
Landmark: His Highness the Aga Khan, Zanzibari President Amani Abeid Karume (centre) and Sam Pickens, deputy director of AKDN (right) officially open the rehabilitated Forodhani Park. Photo/LEONARD MAGOMBA
By MIKE MANDE and FRED OLUOCH (email the author)
Posted Monday, August 3 2009 at 00:00
After 18 months of painstaking work, the Forodhani Park in Zanzibar was finally opened to the public on Thursday.
Rehabilitated by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) at a cost of $2.2 million, the park was officially opened by Zanzibari President Amani Abeid Karume in a function that was also attended by His Highness the Aga Khan.
The 1.4 acre park has regained its landmark status with a fresh new look that added to the beauty of the old Stone Town, itself a World Heritage Site recognised for its exceptional significance to mankind.
“And just like Zanzibar was a significant focal point for this region of the world, so too is the park that has long been of central focus for Zanzibar. This project has given me great personal satisfaction for many years,” said the Aga Khan.
The restoration of Forodhani Park in Zanzibar’s historic Stone Town has transformed the heavily used area — one of the last open spaces in this densely populated World Heritage Site — and upgraded social and recreational amenities.
The work included the restoration of walkways, landscape improvement, infrastructure upgrading including lighting, sewerage, drainage and civic amenities, and rehabilitation of the seawall fronting the park.
The park, once the location of the main port and a landing point for former Sultans of Zanzibar, has remained a central meeting place for civic discourse, leisure and entertainment.
In the past decade, stresses caused by the popularity of the park took their toll. It was clear that an important part of the patrimony of Stone Town was in need of revitalisation.
Sam Pickens, deputy director of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), said the rehabilitation was first proposed by the Trust in 2001 as part of a programme for comprehensive seafront rehabilitation of Stone Town.
Mr Pickens said the rehabilitation was intended to be a logical extension of the work already completed by the AKTC in Kelele Square.
“Following meetings between President Karume and His Highness the Aga Khan, agreements on restoration of the park were signed,” he said.
The Trust has been active in Zanzibar since 1989, successfully completing the restoration of the Old Dispensary, now renamed the Stone Town Cultural Centre, and the old Customs House, as well as the rehabilitation of Kelele Square.
Eleven houses in Stone Town — many of them on the point of collapse — were restored as part of a programme to show the building and restoration techniques needed to preserve the World Heritage Site.
The Trust has also worked with the government and international partners — such as the government of Sweden and the Ford Foundation — to provide workshops on conservation practices and traditional construction methods for craftsmen, building professionals and government officers.
According to Mr Pickens, the creation of an Indian Ocean Maritime Museum is also proposed.
The museum will showcase the maritime cultures of the Indian Ocean, including the display of naval vessels and other artefacts that illustrate the history of the commercial and cultural contacts between Africa, the Middle East and the Indian sub continent.
The restoration of Forodhani Park is intended to be part of a larger seafront rehabilitation programme, encompassing construction of the seawall; underground infrastructure, including water, storm and sewer lines; and creation of a pedestrian promenade, including street lighting and furniture on the seaside.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture is a part of the Aga Khan Development Network.
Over the past 20 years, cultural revitalisation efforts have been carefully integrated into the broader economic and social programmes of the Network — reflecting the Aga Khan’s belief that development is a complex process that requires multiple inputs.
AKDN’s development work in Zanzibar dates to the signing of a Protocol of Co-operation for Development between the Network and the government of Zanzibar in 1988.
In Zanzibar, AKDN’s efforts include the Rahaleo Health Centre, which records over 16,000 patient visits per year.
The Aga Khan Foundation continues to operate a number of programmes in education, training and health, including support for pre-schools on Zanzibar and Pemba, an educational Resource Centre and the training of hundreds of teachers.
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