In proposing the Kizimkazi mosque for a grant from the Ambassadors Fund, U.S. diplomats said a restored mosque could attract tourists, who also visit the town as the launching point for dolphin tours, and give visitors a greater appreciation for Tanzania’s cultural heritage. “The intended outcome is that this culturally significant site will be something that Zanzibaris can be proud of,” the proposal said.
The mosque, which is still in use as a center of community life, was suffering damage from rain and even from bats and birds that nested inside. Work on the Kizimkazi mosque followed another project, also supported by the Ambassadors Fund, to restore two mosques that date from the mid-17th to early 18th century on the island of Pemba.
The mosques, which contain unique features that combine Swahili and Persian architecture, had fallen into disrepair from the harsh climate and a lack of maintenance. The mosques needed work on their roofs and ceilings, along with replacement of faulty electric wiring. They also got new lighting and ceiling fans, fresh paint and new prayer mats. This area is one of the poorest and most remote of what is already a remote part of Tanzania. … While the community has managed to keep the mosques in working order, they have no way of raising money from the congregations to fund the necessary restorations,” the funding proposal said.
A U.S. official who visited Pemba to discuss plans for the project “heard many complaints about the hardships of life in these villages, including the problem of having no access to fresh water,” the proposal said. “But when asked which was a higher priority for the community — access to fresh water or restoration of their historic mosque — the village elders unanimously stated that restoring the mosques was more important.”
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