Some fifty years ago just after Kenya attained her independence, Alan Donovan arrived in Kenya and got to work with the building of the iconic African Heritage House.
Donovan created this marvellous structure that stands as Africa’s most photographed building. He also co-founded the African Heritage Gallery together with the late Joseph Murumbi who doubled up as Kenya’s first Vice President.
Overlooking the mighty Nairobi National Park sprawling from one end of the city into Kajiado and Machakos counties, the African Heritage House is breathtakingly beautiful. It is a one-stop point for the African culture and African art collection.
Now, this iconic architectural marvel is up for sale for $ 2,991,175 (Ksh322 million). What so special about this house?
Here is what you need to knowAfrican Heritage House is a stunning collection of mud architectures from across Africa with an endless list of an invaluable collection of African art. There are an estimated 6,000 pieces of art collected across Africa on exhibit at this American-designed house.
The house sits on 7.7 acres of land spreading to the edge of the Nairobi National Park. When he arrived in Kenya in 1970, Donovan who is now 80 years old visited Turkana in the far north. Donovan was amazed by the rich cultural artefacts in the region that is largely arid.The American-born art lover collected a few artefacts and this is what birthed the African Heritage House which he held his first-ever art exhibition in the same year. He also met Murumbi who was a thriving private art collector.
Together, they teamed up and opened the African Heritage gallery – the first Pan African gallery on the African continent, in 1972. More than three decades down the line, Donovan feels it is time to hand over the mantle to another caring and lover of African art to take care of the precious house.
He told the Standard that “I am too old now and need to find someone who will look after the priceless items. I may go to another house in the vicinity and continue with my Pan Africa studies.”
Already, the African Heritage House is a national monument in Kenya, a status it acquired in 2016 following the government’s recognition.
In January 2016, the African Heritage House was declared a national monument. Once sold, the status of the house remain unless the new owner makes changed to the architectural design of the house. Donovan hopes that once sold, the new owner of the house will continue safeguarding Africa’s heritage through artefacts that he and Sheila – Murumbi’s wife preserved over the years.
The sale should not affect the national status of the house as long as the new owner does not make alterations in the design and will follow in my footsteps and my co-founders, former Vice President Joseph Murumbi and his wife Sheila, in preserving, protecting and promoting African heritage,” says Donovan.
Donovan designed the house with guest services. You can spend as much time as your wish in the house while immersing yourself in the beautiful art collected from every corner of Africa.
All over the guest facilities at the African Heritage, bits of African art from Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and other places make up the furnishing.
The House has a lunch menu for 28 people and a guided tour of the African Heritage House. The lunch comes with free access to a large swimming pool that overlooks the Nairobi National Park. It costs $40 per person for lunch that is inclusive of your favourite glass of wine or beer.
A sundowner dinner and a guided tour of the African House follows. Again, the menu caters for 25 people with the best of meals on offer and sundowners to while away the evening as the sunsets at the vast Nairobi National Park.