The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) is on course to renovate and preserve a colonial administrative block nestled at the heart of Murang’a town.
The block which was constructed in September 1900 was used as an administrative hall to help British colonizers access and take control of the wider Mount Kenya region.
During the early 1900s when the British wanted to expand their colonial rule, Francis Hall, a prominent British colonial officer, established his office in the Metumi area which currently is Murang’a town.
NMK officer in charge of Murang’a County Anthony Maina told KNA that his organisation is in the process to source at least Sh3 million to renovate and equip the block with relevant historical materials for the preservation and reflection of the rich cultural, social, and political heritage of the central region.
Maina stated that once renovated, the block which was constructed by the first colonial governor Mr Francis Hall will host artifacts, photographs, and historical documents that will exhibit and present a vivid colonial history.
Maina said that the building is the only colonial building left standing in Murang’a, adding that it stands as a testimony of the town’s heritage and provides a captivating window into its past.
He explained the building is still standing due to its architectural design noting that it has been used by several government departments until the year 2012 when it was gazetted as a national monument and in 2019.
“The NMK took it over and since there is nothing to show off, the national museums have not been able to market it well thus people are less captivated by it,” said Maina.
He noted, “Once it’s renovated, the monument will offer a glimpse into the lives of the people and the events that have shaped Murang’a town’s identity.”
“The artifacts will range from traditional tools and handicrafts to colonial-era items, providing a comprehensive view of the town’s historical and cultural evolution,” added the Officer.
Maina noted that they are reaching various stakeholders including the national and county government to help in renovating and equipping the museum with the relevant historical artifacts.
The museum, Maina added, will host photos of African chiefs like Karuri wa Gakure, and Waiyaki Wa Hinga who were used by colonizers to easily access the interior of the expansive Mount Kenya region.
“When Francis Hall came to Murang’a, he established Fort Hall purely for administrative purposes unlike Fort Machakos, Fort Smith, and Fort Tenan which were used to store weapons for the soldiers and food for the railway workers,” divulged the museum officer.
He said, “Francis Hall administration covered the Kenya district from the Kenya-Tanzania border all the way to the entire Mount Kenya region.”
He noted the main aim of the governor was to expand the British territory and since the natives of Murang’a were not civilized, he came with 300 porters, including his own security, cooks, and office workers mostly from the coast.
“Some of these people did not return to the coast; they built a mosque in an area known as Mjini at the outskirts of the town and lived there up to now. Currently, the majority of residents of Mjini informal settlement are Muslims,” said Maina.
Maina said serving as a pivotal figure in the region, the Hall shaped the town’s development as well as fostered cultural exchange. “One of the highlights of the museum is Francis Hall’s office, meticulously intact in its original state. In this monument you get to experience the ambiance of a bygone era,” he added.
By Bernard Munyao and Patience Wangari