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Relocation issue hinders Sheik Khojale Palace renovation

After being unable to relocate 43 houses siting in the old Sheik Khojale Palace, located near St. Rafael Church, people are challenging the Addis Ababa Cultural and Tourism Bureau and asking it to renew this old palace which was constructed 112 years ago.
The palace which lies on 1,800 square meters is currently in a dangerous situation. Some of the walls of the two G+1 story buildings have been cracking because there has not been repairs or maintenance done on the palace.
Initially there were three buildings in the palace, but one of the buildings was demolished some decades ago because people who lived nearby were careless.
Among the 43 houses found in the palace, 13 of them were constructed illegally, and the others are Kebele houses where the residents pay a small monthly fee to the government. There is also a public school located there.
In the last fiscal year the cultural bureau paid 2.4 million birr to a local consulting company to study the renovation of three historical houses found in the city including the Sheik Khojale Palace.
But the Gulelle Sub City who is in confusion to give relocation house for the illegal houses is slowing the renovation study of the palace.
Dereje Seyum, heritage expert at the Cultural Bureau told Capital that unless the houses are fully relocated to another place the study can’t proceed and thus an answer as to how to reconstruct the palace can’t be given.
“The study should have been completed last year and reconstruction works should have strated this fiscal year but people are living in the houses and we can’t conduct a study in this situation. We have written letters many times to the concerned body to relocate the houses but no action has been done so far to help our work. Relocating the houses is not our mandate and we will wait till the houses are fully removed from the palace to carry out our study’’ Dereje said.
According to Dereje the palace will be a museum or an art gallery.
Sheik Khojale was governor of Assosa in the times of Minelik II. Khojale Hassan as governor of the whole territory of Benishangul and began ruling by incorporating the domains of the two local Muslim leaders; Khomasa and BeniShangul. In 1925, during the regency of Ras Teferi, Khojale was summoned to Addis Ababa because leaders of the central government wanted him to ensure his allegiance to them Sheik Khojale of Benishangul tried to coordinate his people to resist the fascist Italian forces.
Sheik Khojale had initially submitted to Italians and tried to maintain his power by showing his allegiance to the conquering force. But once the Italians made it clear that they had no intention of ruling the country with involvement of Ethiopian nobles, Khojale changed his mind and began to resist the Italians.


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