The United States Government will continue its financial support to the restoration and maintenance of Ethiopia’s historic sites, said Ambassador of U.S. to Ethiopia.
“In addition to the $125,000 provided by the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, additional funds – approximately $220,000 – are being provided the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) and the Oromia Culture and Tourism Bureau,” said Ambassador Michael Raynor.
“Together, these funds will make it possible to undertake the most comprehensive conservation project ever at Aba Jiffar Palace, including not only urgent timber conservation, but also significant work on masonry elements, drainage, roofing, fixtures, and fitting. Funding will also go toward developing an on-site museum, landscaping, and preparing a maintenance plan to ensure the long-term integrity of this incredible structure,” he said visiting Aba Jiffar Palace in Jimma City.
He further stated that this work supports a broader vision of creating a new cultural destination in the region that links the heritage of coffee, Aba Jiffar Palace, and Jimma into a broader context that reflects the extraordinary history, culture, and potential of this extraordinary part of Ethiopia.
The palace, built in the 1880s by King Aba Jiffar the Second, is the oldest, largest and best-preserved surviving example of traditional wooden architecture in Jimma. It’s a rare example of architecture that fuses traditional building technology from southwestern Ethiopia with the Indo-Arab architectural style that was common along the Indian Ocean, according to Ambassador Raynor.
“Consequently, Aba Jiffar Palace is a symbol of the cultural and mercantile links between Ethiopia and the rest of the world. As much as the rock-hewn churches of Gheralta and Lalibela, the walled city of Harar, the fortified settlements and terraces in Konso, and the castles of Gondar, the Aba Jiffar palace represents a history that made Ethiopia a country of incredible cultural diversity, and it reminds us that such diversity should be cherished as a source of shared pride,” Ambassador Raynor said.
“With that in mind, I’m honored that the tenth U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) project in Ethiopia will focus on helping to preserve this special place.”
In recent years, AFCP has supported various projects in Lalibela – most recently the restoration of Bete Golgotha Mikael and Bete Gabriel Raphael – under the stewardship of the World Monuments Fund, according to Ambassador Raynor.
He also stated that this new project at Aba Jiffar Palace is not only significant in own right, but also as a symbol of the ever-growing and true partnership between the United States and Ethiopia in heritage conservation.