Whenever I want to feel connected to my past, there are two places I turn to; my parents a.k.a Mum and Dad, or the Kenya National Archives and Documentation Services a.k.a Archives. When I walk through these solid tall wooden doors in the heart of Nairobi, I feel like an epic time traveller going back decades and centuries long gone, to spend time with individuals who changed the course of history and who are now remembered on these walls of the Archives in the form of words, stories and pictures.
I visit the Archives to feel closer to my ancestors, closer to my heritage, closer to the real stories of Kenya. It’s a space where I see, read, feel, touch and smell objects that were once seen, read, felt, touched and smelt by outstanding Kenyans who lived decades before me.
I’m always in awe of the stories on these walls. The black and white newspaper cuttings , or black and white photographs of smiling men and women, clearly enjoying their lives when they breathed. Stories of the revolution; the tragedies of murder and the sweetness of freedom.
This recent history that is rarely talked of in the News nowadays; of the young man Tom Mboya and his drive to expand education for young Africans, or Field Marshall Muthoni who fought for ‘land and freedom’ fiercely, or the fearless writing of Pio Gama Pinto on the liberation of African countries from foreign domination. The latest addition to the collection made me so proud as I’m a witness to her impact- Prof. Wangari Maathai, Nobel Laureate & political and environmental activist extraordinaire!
Kenya’s history oozes strength, courage and idealism by a crop of men and women, just like you and me, who dedicated their lives to bettering the conditions for their fellow comrades. The likes of the Kapenguria six ( Achieng’ Oneko, Fred Kubai, Bildad Kaggia, Kungu Karumba, Paul Ngei, Jomo Kenyatta), Dedan Kimathi, Oginga Odinga, Ronald Ngala…I wonder if I’ll make it to this wall of fame…
I love most how each of these men and women defended the integrity and honour of the people they advocated for, how they gave up their own personal comfort and freedom so that their people could enjoy comfort and freedom…
Here are 3 other reasons why you’d want to visit the Archives;
1. The Murumbi Gallery:
It amazes me how one couple ( Joseph & Sheila Murumbi ) could collect so much art, artifacts and books (>50,000 with over 8,000 of them been described as ‘rare’). It’s the largest Pan-African art gallery in Africa containing ancient art collections from different regions and communities in Africa!
2. The Library
FYI- ‘Bieber’ is not here! Sorry.
3. Know thyself.
See you around?
Photo credits: Kenya National Archives picture courtesy of www.Kenya365.com
Love and beauty,
Njuhi Chege | CEO
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