Joseph Murumbi (1911-1990): The Memory of a Continent

View of memorial garden

Kenya’s second Vice-President (May 1966-December 1966)
A memorial garden at City Park has been established by the Murumbi Trust,  with display panels illustrating some of Joseph Murumbi’s life, and having art pieces, mainly sculptures that he loved, or made in his memory.  Read more on the life of Joseph Murumbi and the Memorial Peace Garden…

Among the late Joseph Murumbi’s vast collections are more than 6000 books published before the 1900s, and a rare manuscript from David Livingston.  His books inhabit a good portion of the Kenya National Archives library.   His Pan African stamp collections are said to be the most important in the world, after the Queen of England’s collection.

"Paragon Couple" carved by pioneer artist John Odochamey

“Paragon Couple” carved by pioneer artist John Odochamey in honour of Joseph and Sheila Murumbi. This sculpture was ripped off its base in City Park. Its feet still stand on the base, in mute testimony to the mindless violence the country experienced in 2008.

Joseph Murumbi art collections now form the basis of the Murumbi Gallery, which covers the entire ground floor of the Kenya National Archives.   It was at the opening of the first African Heritage Gallery on Kenyatta Avenue in January 1973 (together with Alan Donovan), that Murumbi appealed for greater support for artists, “artists are generally very poor men, and unless every encouragement is given to them by buying their works of art, they find it extremely difficult to survive.”  The collections left behind by Mrs. Murumbi now make up the Murumbi African Heritage Collections in the Old PCs Office, a 100 year old colonial style stone building in the epicenter of Nairobi.

He also suggested that a National Art Gallery be constructed, for the benefit of future generations, and the old PC’s office building was once considered for this purpose.

By Alan Donovan


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