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Clubs once owned by settlers risk losing significance due to neglect

Monday July 1 2019

 Endebess Club

Trans Nzoia County executive in charge of Tourism Aggrey Chemonges points at the now run down Endebess Club once frequented by White settlers in the 1980s. The Queen Mother once visited the club during a tour of East Africa in the in 1950s. PHOTO | GERALD BWISA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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About 25 kilometres from Kitale town, on the Kitale-Endebess Road, sits the legendary Endebess Golf Club, which the Queen Mother, Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, visited in the 1950s during a tour of East Africa.

The club sits on 150 acres of land and once boasted a 9-hole golf course, which is now covered with maize.

The land on which the club sits is now owned by former Agricultural Finance Corporation Managing Director Reuben Butaki.

The Endebess club is one of the three owned by British settlers, the others being the Elgon and Kitale golf clubs. Of the three, only the Elgon club is still operational.

The Endebess club was established 80 years ago by high -ranking British officials who lived in Endebess and its environs. It has a swimming pool, a bird sanctuary and a clubhouse.

One of the former settler houses in Trans Nzoia

One of the former settler houses in Trans Nzoia County. PHOTO | GERALD BWISA | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Many forgotten gems are found in this area. For instance, located on the slope of the scenic Cherangany Hills as you enter Trans Nzoia County is a house known as “State house”, once a nobleman’s home. It is here that, 75 years ago, the 10th Duke of Manchester built a farmhouse after selling all his property, including a castle in England, to settle in Kenya. Alexander Montagu moved to Kenya in 1946.

In the 1990s, whenever former President Daniel Arap Moi visited Trans Nzoia, he would to spend time at the farmhouse, which sits on 700 acres of land, with a natural forest and is home to the rare De Brazza’s Monkey.

Endebess Club

The farmhouse where former President Daniel arap Moi spent time. PHOTO | GERALD BWISA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Moi’s love for the farmhouse is what earned it the nickname “State House.”

Since Moi's regime, the property has been under the General Service Unit, whose presence has helped protect the surrounding forest from would-be encroachers.
But this is just one of the many houses with a history that belonged to the White settlers.

The homes, some of which are more than 100 years old, though obviously once sturdy and imposing, have suffered years to neglect, with some beginning to crumble.


Locals who spoke to the Nation said that after independence, the homes were taken over by African farmers, who have run them down because they don’t bother to maintain them.

However, the Trans Nzoia County government is mapping out these homes and engaging their owners with a view to bringing investors on board to restore them.

 Endebess Club

Archived photos of the door of the farmhouse that was owned by the 10th Duke of Manchester Alexander Montagu. PHOTO | GERALD BWISA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Trans Nzoia Governor Patrick Khaemba said the county intends to convert and promote the old settler farmhouses into holiday homes and conferencing facilities.
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