From Business in Africa:
Kenya orders Italian to stop ruining historic site
Posted Mon, 22 May 2006
Nairobi – Kenyan authorities have moved quickly to protect one of the country’s historical sites along the Indian Ocean coast by ordering a foreign investor from Italy to immediately stop developing a piece of land where an ancient ruin with historical values stands.
The piece of land holds the ruins of an ancient mosque where a prominent Chinese sailor, Zheng Hess, prayed when he visited the historical town of Malindi in 1415.
The ruins of Khatiba mosque lie less than a kilometre from the Indian Ocean shores in two private plots owned by Italians.
The mosque is one of the tourist attractions in Malindi, the country’s tourism hub, and attracts thousands of visitors, especially the Chinese.
Italian investor Lolli Sergio, the proprietor of the five star White Beach Village Hotel, had without waiting for the authorities to carry out a comprehensive environmental impact assessment (EIA) study, commenced the construction of private villas and cottages, officials of the ministry of national heritage complained on Sunday.
According to a letter addressed to the investor, the head of the department of coastal archaeology, Herman Kiriama, directed Sergio to also present a satisfactory cultural impact assessment report in addition to the EIA document.
The letter said: “In a meeting held on 22nd April 2006, between the museum and the hotel, we agreed that you shall preserve the ruins of the ancient mosque in your plot and in case of any development, you shall inform the museum in order to salvage any historical data that can help us in documenting and recording the history of the mosque.
“We are surprised that you commenced development around the mosque without informing us as agreed (and it) is now difficult to determine how much valuable data has been concealed or destroyed.”
If the construction work continued, he said, it would deny the people of Kenya and the international community very vital data that might assist in rewriting the history of Malindi.
According to the Antiquities and Monument Act of 1984, any structure of historical importance dating prior to 1895 is a protected monument and consent of government through the National Museum is needed before any development takes place within and around such structures.
Kiriama warned the investor that he risked been prosecuted if he failed to stop the construction before complying with the requirements. -panapress
British 19th century colonialism and Africa: here.