Zanzibar Cathedral

Exterior, Zanzibar Cathedral 2007


  • The Cathedral, built at the end of the 19th century on Zanzibar’s old slave market site, had fallen into disrepair and had structural problems.
  • It has significant cultural significance in the Stone Town World Heritage Site as well as being the main place of worship for the Anglican community on the island.
  • Christians in Zanzibar are marginalized and discriminated against.

CED was invited to discuss a conservation and repair strategy in 2007. The subsequent engineering inspection brought to light serious structural problems. CED proposed remedial measures but funds to implement these were not forthcoming. The current project with World Monuments Fund has provided for the insertion of steel ties in the roof and gone on to replace the roof tiles and replaster the walls. On-site supervision was provided by a CED member’s consultancy ADAC Structures during the critical structural phase. WMF employed direct labour for other work under the supervision of a conservation expert. The vision includes the development of an exhibition celebrating the end of the slave trade with the expectation that ticket sales will help fund ongoing maintenance.

The European funded project was completed at the end of May but work continued with repairs to the spire. Other areas that require attention are:

  • stained glass
  • altar
  • clock
  • bells
  • organ

If you’d like to learn more about Zanzibar, information is available through Friends of Zanzibar Cathedral or the Cathedral’s website.


The project cost approximately €1,000,000. This included the refurbishment of the cathedral, repair of St. Monica’s old dispensary and the installation of an exhibition, then repairs to the spire that were outwith the European funded project.

European Union                                                              78%
Government of Zanzibar                                           3%
Anglic. Dioc. Zanzibar (+international help)    11%
U.S. Ambassadors Fund Cultural Preservn.     6%
CED, including Anglican Church in UK.              2%

Underway; funds needed!

Cathedral spire needing attention

Cathedral spire needing attention

The Cathedral conservation team is on site and everyone is keen to see the project continue once the main structural work is complete. A dip in tourist numbers (visitors pay to visit the cathedral) has depleted the Diocese’s finances and they are working hard to generate funds so that they not only benefit from the full tranche of European funding but can continue with work to the badly damaged stained glass, altar, etc.

This repair work will provide local jobs and develop the skills of artisans in Stone Town. On completion the cathedral should be self sustaining through income from an “abolition of slavery” exhibition, an installation that will challenge visitors to think about modern day slavery as well as remembering the role of 19th century reformers who persuaded Zanzibar to close its slave market.

Please support this work if you are able. Donations should be marked “for Zanzibar Cathedral” and cheques sent to the CED treasurer whose address is on the contacts page.


Download a PDF describing the project

Click the picture below to download the PDF document.

Zanzibar PDF cover

There is further information about the Cathedral at the Friends of Zanzibar Cathedral website.


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