Preservation of ancient Swahili Ruins of Kua marks historic milestone

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania -- Nestled off Tanzania’s coast on Juani Island, the ancient Swahili town of Kua traces back to the 13th century, standing as one of East Africa’s largest medieval Swahili settlements. The site boasts a significant number of residential structures that have withstood the test of time, including a grand palace and five mosques. Protected under the Antiquities Act No. 10 of 1964, as amended by Act No. 22 of 1979, the Kua Ruins are a testament to Swahili architectural ingenuity and historical importance.

On March 21, U.S. Ambassador Michael Battle, alongside Mafia District’s Administrative Secretary Olivanus Paul Thomas, commemorated the successful completion of the third phase of the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) project to restore these historic Swahili ruins within the Mafia Island archipelago.

From 2017 through 2022, the U.S. Embassy awarded a total of $434,929 (approximately Tshs 1.1 billion) to World Monuments Fund (WMF) via the AFCP program of the U.S. Department of State. This funding supported the preservation of these ancient ruins in a collaborative effort with the local community. The celebratory event at the Kua Ruins hosted local government officials, a delegate from the Ministry of Natural Resources, WMF representatives, and community members.

“Through the AFCP program, the U.S. has not only preserved the essence of Kua but also ensured local communities benefit from these preservation efforts,” Ambassador Battle noted,

Since its inception in 2001, the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) has aimed to safeguard notable cultural heritage sites across the globe. The US have generously contributed over one million dollars in grants since 2002, supporting a wide range of preservation projects in Tanzania. These projects include the restoration of the 18th-century Kizimkazi Mosque in Zanzibar, the ancient trade port ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani, the prehistoric rock art in Kondoa, the 19th-century Bwanga House in Pangani, and the historical Shumba and Micheweni mosques in Pemba, among others.

World Monuments Fund (WMF), the project’s lead implementing organization, is a premier non-profit entity dedicated to preserving the world’s most iconic heritage sites. With over 50 years of experience in more than 90 countries, WMF’s skilled experts employ advanced preservation techniques to safeguard architectural and cultural landmarks worldwide.