Beit al Ajaib 1883- 2020

In the name of Allah, The Entirely and The Most Merciful.

All praise be to Allah alone. We praise Him and seek His help; we seek his forgiveness and his guidance. We seek refuge in Allah from evil intentions, our evil deeds, and all evil beings. I pray that His peace be with you today and all days to come.

We are saddened to announce that what once was known as the House of Wonders is now no longer standing. On December 25th, 2020, the famous building collapsed while maintenance that was long overdue; was taking place.

The Sultan’s Palace was built in 1883 by Sayyid Barghash; the third Sultan of Zanzibar. This building was more commonly known as Beit-al-Ajaib or the House of Wonders. It was given its name because it was the first building in the Island of Zanzibar to have electricity, and also the first building in East Africa to have an elevator. Inside were beautifully carved inscriptions from the Quran. There was so much history in the building; one of which, in front of the building once stood a light house that was destroyed during the Anglo-Zanzibar War in 1896. Also known as the shortest War in the world that lasted about 47 minutes. During the reconstruction, a piece of the tower was integrated into the facade of the building in 1897 with a clock at the top and a London Bell placed inside the heart of tower.

Over the years, people came and went, the weather changed, the children grew, the flowers blossomed, and the streets improved, but The Sultan’s Palace remained; yet abandoned and forgotten. Turned into a museum for the tourists and a momentum for the locals, used on postcards and photographed for its uniqueness. Sad we are but reality is due to negligence the building could not bare standing another day. For the first time in years, when the hammers and the workers finally started maintaining the beautiful Beit-al-Ajaib; did it decide to tear itself down. Taking with it two souls that were stranded inside with four more who have been rescued and are now recovering quite well. Alhamdulillah.

May their souls rest in peace those who have gone back to their Creator, as we try to clear the streets, picking up all of the broken pieces. We watch the pieces of building lay and are reminded of its need to be loved and maintained. As time passes us by, we hope we can rebuild the lost memories of Beit-al-Ajaib. Standing again will be a dream come true for this piece of history deserves the worlds’ view.

F. J. Al-salama

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