I recently visited Kenyatta House Maralal during a trip to Maralal town for the 2017 Maralal International Camel Derby.
I had heard about the house and the Kapenguria Six story when I was in primary school but had not created an interest to visit the house where Kenya’s Freedom fighter and the first president was detained under house arrest from April 1961 to August 1961.
Kenyatta House Maralal is a three-bedroom bungalow which was constructed in 1959 and sits on a 28-acre piece of land near Maralal Town along the Maralal-Leroghi road. This house holds a great significance to Kenya’s history, independence from the British colonial rule, and current day politics. The house is currently under the management of Museums of Kenya.
It’s said when the British Colonialists realized that the Mau Mau fighters were overwhelming them even after the imprisonment of the Kapenguria six, they transferred Mzee Jomo Kenyatta to Maralal, separating him from the rest – Ronald Ngala, Tom Mboya, and Oginga Odinga.
The charges/donation towards the maintenance of Kenyatta House museum are as below:
- Kenyans- Kenya Shillings 100 and their children 50
- Residents – Kenya Shillings 400 and their children 200
- Foreigners – Kenya Shillings 500 and their children 250
When we arrived, there was nobody inside the house or the compound, therefore, we showed ourselves inside the house which was open. Around 20 minutes later, Mzee Mulwa arrived and began showing us around, explaining its history in good spoken English.
According to Mulwa, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was the second person to live in this house under a house arrest after being transferred from Lodwar. Unlike Lodwar, here Jomo Kenyatta was free to leave the house to the nearby shopping centre though in the company of his two-armed guards and was not allowed to talk to a group of more than 10 people.
Mzee Mulwa showed us around the house, different rooms with the English-style furniture and furnishing still well preserved. In the sitting room is a wooden canvas couch and dining table, a bathtub in the bathroom, a firewood oven in the kitchen and a tiny bed where Kenyatta used to sleep. We were not allowed to sit on those chairs or the bed as they are preserved for the future generation, just like how we found them still intact, 58 years later.
There’s a study desk in the master bedroom which gives a beautiful view and Mulwa tells us that’s the desk Kenyatta sat on while writing his book ‘Facing Mount Kenya’.
There’s a guest book where visitors signed when they visited during that time when Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was in prison.
When we asked Mzee Mulwa if President Uhuru Kenyatta was conceived here, he pulled out the drawer and showed us a visitor’s book. Flipping through the pages he pointed at remarks written by President Uhuru Kenyatta on July 1, 2007, when he visited. ‘’Conceived in this house in 1961. A pleasure to be back using my own two feet’’.
Mama Ngina Kenyatta visited Kenyatta House Maralal to live with her husband together with her two children Christine Wambui and Jane Njeri. Other freedom fighters and personalities who visited Mzee Jomo Kenyatta included Jaramogi Oginga Odinga who became the Vice president of Kenya after independence, Tom Mboya, Ronald Ngala, Daniel Arap Moi who later became Kenya’s second president, Mbiyu Koinange, John keen and James Gichuru.
We also walked around the lush gardens with beautiful flowers and trees, one of which was planted by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2007.
If you happen to visit Maralal town, and are a lover of History or just would like to confirm what your History teacher said in Primary School, Kenyatta House is highly recommended.
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