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Notes on the Geography of Tanzania: Zanzibar: Photo 60

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What did Tharia Topan, the donor, have in mind with such display? He was described in his own lifetime as "one of the wealthiest men in East Africa." (Steve Battle in The History and Conservation of Zanzibar, edited by Abdul Sheriff, 1995). But what point was he making, other than to demonstrate his loyalty to the Crown and his own wealth? Was it a statement about the status of Ismaili Muslims in a Sunni-majority town? In any case, Topan went to India to secure an architect, Hasham Virjee Patel, and Patel brought in workers as well as materials from India. Topan died before the building was finished.

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