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Cover Story

Launch of Joseph Murumbi – A Legacy of Integrity

Volume 15, Issue 2  | 
Published 18/11/2018
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The launch of Joseph Murumbi – a Legacy of Integrity by Karen Rothmyer formed one of the highlights of SAMOSA Festival 8, especially as it involved a multiple of partners and settings in making it a success. To begin with the author flew to Nairobi from the United States especially for the launch; the ‘Performance Collective’ did a superb job in livening up all the events; a visit to the Murumbi and Pinto grave sites was included and the program climaxed with a fascinating day hosted by the African Heritage House at the edge of the picturesque and stunning Nairobi National Park.  The huge collection of African art and culture so attractively displayed captured the essence of Murumbi’s life and legacy.

THE BOOK LAUNCH, Friday 22 June 2018 at The Alchemist

The interviews of Murumbi by Anne Thurston are virtually the only recordings of his view of Kenya’s independence-era politics. As such, they are of great value, not only to historical researchers of the future but also to individual Kenyans, particularly young Kenyans, who want to know more about how their country came to be. After the publication of A Path Not Taken Karen Rothmyer and Wendy Karmali, both of whom had lived in Kenya through some of the Murumbi years—agreed that the interviews were fascinating. But in order to appeal to a wider audience, they needed to be significantly edited and provided with context. This book is a product of their effort.

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The launch program was crafted by the Performance Collective which is a three-person troupe that holds regular readings and performances at the Point Zero café. Professor Macharia Munene who has taken a keen interest in Murumbi’s history   introduced the book. The Governor of Kisumu, Prof. Anyang’ Nyongo, turned up unexpectedly and shared some of his memories of Joseph Murumbi and the legacy that he represented. Zarina Patel, representing the publisher Zand Graphics Ltd, gave a short talk about her recollections of Murumbi the man and what he meant to Kenyan history. The author finally rounded up the launch with a moving tribute to Murumbi and her journey towards the writing of the book.

SATURDAY MORNING at CITY PARK

In a final symbolic act of devotion and love for each other Joseph and Sheila Murumbi are buried next to each other at the Murumbi Peace Memorial, just outside the boundary of the City Park Cemetry where Joe’s dearest friend Pio Gama Pinto is buried. The Murumbis became national icons as they devoted themselves to the collection of African Art and the archiving of Kenyan culture. They indeed pioneered this noble act which is today represented in their collections at the Kenya National Archives and The Nairobi Gallery.

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On Saturday morning we got together at the Murumbi Peace Memorial where we were fortunate to meet the Board of Trustees of the Murumbi Trust who were on one of its regular visits.   The Samosa group had a quiet reflective session at this Memorial where a deep sense of peace, love and a respect for Nature is all-pervasive.   Finally Garnette Oluoch recited her very moving poem in memory of Murumbi:

CONVERSATIONS with the AUTHOR – Karen Rothmyer. SATURDAY AFTERNOON

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The Performance Collective engaged the author in a most interesting and informative session. Each topic of conversation was preceded by a relevant reading(s) from the book. The author then responded to it by providing more detailed explanations and answering some of the queries and arguments raised.   The sessions were broken down chronologically starting from Murumbi’s early life to his years in politics and ending with his devotion to art and culture.  The participation of the audience greatly enriched the conversations and the afternoon was one of much learning and bon homie.

SUNDAY–at AFRICAN HERITAGE HOUSE

African Heritage House overlooking the Nairobi National Park is designed by Alan Donovan, co-founder of the African Heritage Pan African Galleries. It is a combination of the mud architectures from across Africa and furnished with Africana art and craft.

SAMOSA enthusiasts met in the early morning and the transport to Athi River was kindly provided by Summit Seekers. On arrival at the Heritage House they were served with some hot tea/coffee and snacks. The groups were then taken to a tour of the House which has some rare and magnificent Africana material culture similar to the collections of Joseph Murumbi. At the end of the tour the group gathered on the third floor where it was treated to some beautiful African instrumental music by Papillon. A final reading and reflection on Joseph Murumbi took place again led by the Performance Collective this time on the verandah overlooking the scenic Nairobi National Park.  The day was enjoyed by all and the Festival would like to express its deepest thanks to Alan Donovan for facilitating this tour and his gracious hospitality.

Last modified on Monday, 19 November 2018 00:28
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