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Restoration and Proposed Museum for the Tippu Tip’s house – Stone Town, Zanzibar

The intention with this project is to restore the structure as closely as possible to its 1905 status and to provide a permanent and sustainable cultural use in the form of a museum to Tippu Tip and slavery in East Africa. This project will also provide a home for the Dhow Country Music Academy (DCMA), a valuable cultural institution which promotes the education of the traditional musical styles of Zanzibar and the Swahili coast.

The Tippu Tip house is among the few monuments in Zanzibar which symbolize both the tangible and intangible heritage of Zanzibar society. It is tangible in terms of its architectural quality. In its own fashion it accumulates a mixture of many architectural features, of Arab, Indian and Swahili styles. In its representation of intangible heritage, it is a very rare monument because it allows for this difficult history to be dicussed.

Stone Town, Zanzibar has been a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site since 2000 and this building and its owner are directly related to that heritage. Historically, Stone Town was used as a port and market for the trade in slaves, which contributed greatly to the development of Zanzibar. Tippu Tip himself was one of the merchants who had been involved in this trade. As a cultural artefact, the building represents the reality of the time. Its presence is a historic testimony for future generations.

This project would involve the restoration of one of the most significant buildings in Zanzibar’s Stone Town. Tippu Tip’s house is a fine example of the late 19th century Stone Town palaces. Its veranda has particularly fine wrought ironwork and the door is one of the finest ‘Zanzibar’ doors which signified the owner’s wealth and is testament to the great skill of Zanzibari craftsmen of the period.

Consultation with local NGOs such as the Stone Town Conservation Brigade has proved that the capacity to complete this restoration to a high standard is available within the island. This group is a local NGO with 10 members (both male and female) and a team leader. All members are experienced ‘fundis’ who have received training in conservation and have gone on to use this expertise to conserve some of the most important and fragile heritage of Zanzibar.

A cost plan for the project has been compiled which also includes future revenues from renting the space to the Dhow Country Music Academy (DCMA), rent received from two apartments located on the second floor and a shop for the museum on the ground floor. It is through these different programmes that revenue for the continued maintenance of the building would be created.

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