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MOMBASA, Kenya -- National Museums of Kenya (NMK) officials have recovered the rare fish with Arabic inscriptions after it was stolen by people posing as officials from the department.
The fish, caught off the Vanga coast in Kwale District last week, was recovered from a house in Mombasa’s Old Town. The Tuna fish, which was awaiting casting by the NMK, disappeared from the custody of the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Department on Monday.
Fort Jesus Museums Education officer, Mr Hassan Mohamed Hassan, said it had been taken to the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries laboratories in Mombasa for preservation. However, suspected unscrupulous traders posing as officials from his department went to the laboratories and demanded the fish, which they were given and carried away.
"Our officials recovered the fish on Tuesday before it could be sold," he said.
Hassan said the suspects had gone into hiding but police were pursuing them.
"My department has reached an agreement with the person who caught the fish, that it be kept by the National Museums of Kenya," he said.
The official said the fish was kept at -20 degrees to prevent it from decaying and to preserve the writing.
"Casting of the fish, which will involve molding by using silicon rubber and sawdust, will be done on Monday at the Fort Jesus Museum," he said. Hassan said the writings would become visible after the casting.
The rare fish attracted huge crowds at Takaungu Fish Shop in Old Town last Friday, when it was brought from Vanga. Businessmen who thronged the shop wanted to buy it for as much as Sh10,000, but the shopkeeper declined the offers.
The fish bore a Koranic scripture "Wa Llahu Khairu Raazikin" which, when translated, means "The Almighty God is the giver of all blessings".
The fish has drawn controversy among Muslims, with some saying it is a "holy fish" which should be preserved, while others say it is a "good luck fish", which should be eaten.
The fish will be exhibited at the Fort Jesus Museum after casting.