July 19, 2019

Tourist Graffiti Threatens Fort Jesus Survival

Fort Jesus

By Hellen Nanzia

Experts have warned that graffiti may erode the world heritage status of the Fort Jesus monument in Mombasa County.

National Museums of Kenya Senior Curator Sadu Rashid said visiting couples scribble their names on the walls of the monument, defacing the finely crafted ancient building.

“Graffiti is one of the major challenges we are facing. It is mostly done by couples and university students who visit the place and we are looking into how we will stop it to avoid further damage on these walls,” said senior curator Rashid during the Fourth Annual Curators Meeting (ANCUM) in Meru Town.

She said Fort Jesus holds an archive of human prehistory and asked those practicing their handiwork on the buildings to stop.

“We are working with the police to improve security around the building especially where muggings and robbery have been reported. I’m also asking the residents to participate in community policing,” said Rashid.

But despite the challenges, the monument recently added another feather to its cap by winning this year’s Trip Advisor Award.

“We also got funds from UNESCO to do a study on the extent of sea erosion, which is threatening the stability of Fort Jesus,” she said, adding that they are working with the Mombasa County Government to do more exhibitions that will promote the site.

The Fort Jesus curator also singled out insecurity, travel warnings and global warming as some of the challenges facing one of the biggest symbolic representations of Mombasa.

The curator also noted that communities living around cultural and heritage sites should be involved in developing management plans for the sites to ensure their survival.

The NMK’s director in charge of museums, sites and monuments, Dr. Purity Kiura, asked counties to repackage their services and products to maximize on benefits that give tourism circuits a unique identity. She said most products that could boost revenue from tourism were drawn from the culture of the people and natural sites.

Dr. Kiura said many counties are within regions rich in cultural diversity and captivating sites.

Officials stressed that counties are expected to build local museums that encourage the preservation of traditional sacred sites as places of ecological, cultural and spiritual importance.

ANCUM was formed to address the declining state of conservation and research as well as to disseminate new information on the museums, sites and monuments.

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