The house on the hill where Kenyatta served his detention

The building stands firm, in defiance of the 56 years it has been in existence.

Tuesday February 9 2016

Kenyatta House in Maralal Town. The 56-year-old building was where Jomo Kenyatta was partially detained for his alleged links to the Mau Mau during the struggle for independence. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kenyatta House in Maralal Town. The 56-year-old building was where Jomo Kenyatta was partially detained for his alleged links to the Mau Mau during the struggle for independence. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOHNSTON KETI
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Kenyatta House, a three bedroomed bungalow in Maralal town, holds great significance to Kenya’s independence and leadership.

This is where Kenya’s first president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, was partly detained by the British colonial government.

The building stands firm, in defiance of the 56 years it has been in existence.

The house sits on a hilly 28-acre piece of land opposite the Samburu governor’s residence on the Maralal-Leroghi road in Samburu Central Sub-County.

SECOND PERSON

The building is painted white on the outside but blue inside.

It has red cemented floor and its roof is painted green.

According to Mr John Rigano, the curator at Kenyatta House, Kenyatta was the second person to live in the house from April 1961 to August 1961.

Kenyatta was moved to the house by the colonial government from Lodwar, where he had been detained for alleged involvement with the Mau Mau movement in 1953.

A white settler, Mr Michael Blundell, liaised between Kenyatta and the colonial government and facilitated the former’s movement from a prison in Lodwar to the house in Maralal, where he was partially free, unlike in Lodwar and Kapenguria where he was previously detained.

“He was allowed to walk to Maralal trading centre in the company of his two bodyguards but was not allowed to talk to a group of more than 10 people,” says Mr Rigano.

The curator adds: “Kenyatta also bought his own food while here from the little allowance he received from the colonial government.”

Mr Rigano said Kenyatta House, being a historical monument under the management of National Museums of Kenya, was gazetted in 1977 to signify trials and tribulations that freedom fighters went through as they fought for Kenya’s Independence from the colonial government.

There is hope that the Culture and Heritage Bill, which has already gone through public participation, will see the Samburu County Government inject funds in improving and marketing Kenyatta House as a tourist destination.

On average, about 200 people visit the building every month. They are allowed in free of charge. There are plans, however to introduce an entrance fee to help meet maintenance costs, according to Mr Rigano.

Besides the three bedrooms, the house also consists of a tiny kitchen with a firewood oven. It also has a washroom with a flash toilet.

However, while in the house, visitors are not allowed to sit on the  chairs and beds.

Mr Rigano said everything in the house has been maintained to look like it was in 1961 and even though the house has been repainted, the walls retain the original colours.

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