Home' Travel News : August-September 2015 Contents 22 travel news August-September 2015
August-September 2015 travel news 23
I told him this did not happen, but he said someone bought the gazette on that Friday
and there it was!”
Magdalene Odundo is one of many delighted to hear the news. “This is a true
endorsement of Alan’s dedication to embed the cultural heritage of Kenya within a wider
African context and Diaspora. The Heritage House and the collection matter and are
important to us all,” says Odundo, an emeritus professor of ceramics with the University
for the Creative Arts in Farnham, England.
Donovan now plans to convert the house into an African Heritage Trust for the people
of Kenya, Africa and the world, with a leading US foundation and library as chief
stakeholders, together with universities in Kenya and the US, linked to the Murumbi
collections in the National Museums, the Kenya National Archives and the Murumbi
Peace Memorial in Nairobi City Park.
He is consulting with a number of investors from Kenya and Tanzania to expand the
house into a community based on 17 cultures of “lost” African architectures, all with
sweeping views of the Park and just 15 minutes from the Nairobi’s international airport.
The new “Borderlands” community is to include suites, cottages, a conference centre,
restaurant and campsite to be enjoyed by local people as well as tourists looking for a
“safari” experience close to Nairobi. Plans are underway for an annual “African Heritage
Fashion and Cultural Festival” to include a “fashion city” and museum along the rim of
The African Heritage Trust would provide a rich resource of history and culture. In
Donovan’s view, “It would be a way of remembering African heritage before it is lost for
future generations which is happening now.”
The Murumbi Legacy
Alan Donovan and the African Heritage House community are in the process of making
the house into an Advanced African Studies Centre as a tribute to the late Joseph
Murumbi, Kenya’s first Foreign Minister and the country’s second Vice President.
Before his death, Joseph Murumbi wanted to share his collection with the people of
Kenya, so he sold his house in Muthaiga with some of his vast collections of books and
art to the Kenyan government to be an Institute of African Studies. However, the house
was demolished and unscrupulous politicians grabbed the land upon which the house
He then built a second house near the famous Masai Mara, which was to become part
of an African Research Centre, but after suffering a stroke he was evacuated to Nairobi
and died a short time after. His second house still stands desolate today, a monument
to vandalism and desecration.
Now it appears that Murumbi’s dream may at last become a reality in another form,
through the gazetting of the African Heritage House as a national monument. Plans
are to convert the house into an African Heritage Trust for the people of Kenya, Africa
and the World, with Universities and Libraries in Kenya and the United States to be the
chief stakeholders and overseers for the house.
The African Heritage African Studies Centre will be linked to the Murumbi collections
at the National Museums of Kenya, The Kenya National Archives, and the Murumbi
Peace Memorial at Nairobi City Park. These include a very valuable collection of
African postage stamps left behind by the passing of Sheila Murumbi which have been
displayed in the Kenya National Archives with the assistance and supervision of the
United States Library of Congress’s East African office.
Alan Donovan hopes to establish an African Heritage Community based on the “lost”
architecture of Africa, adjacent to the African Heritage House, overlooking the Nairobi
National Park. This complex would include a museum of African textiles, jewellery,
costumes and fashion as well as lodges, cottages, a restaurant and conference centre,
only a few minutes from the Nairobi international airport.
There are already plans for the first annual African Heritage Fashion Week to take
place at this site later at a date to be announced.
Joseph Murumbi with his collection
of masks and his pet poodle. The
fascinating new book 'A Path Not Taken'
is due to be launched in September.
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