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The Fate of the Iconic Scouts Museum in Nyeri

The Paxtu Museum at the Outspan Hotel in Nyeri, which houses relics of the founder of the World Scouting Movement, Lord Baden Powell, will be safe even after it is taken over by a new proprietor.

Kenya Scouts Association International Commissioner, Anthony Gitonga, said that the Scouts’ Association had also received assurance from the current owners, Abedare Safari Hotels, that in the event that a new owner takes up the hotel, the status of Paxtu Museum is already secured.

Gitonga has also said that the Kenya Scouts Association has been in talks with the National government and United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to have the Baden Powell’s grave site and the Paxtu Museum registered as protected heritage sites in Kenya.

“We are very optimistic that there is no likelihood, whatsoever, that we are going to lose Paxtu. That has come out very strongly from our discussions,” he said.

Paxtu Museum is a four-roomed cottage within the Outspan Hotel, which was the final home where Lord Powell spent the last three years of his life before his death in 1941.

In 2001, the Museum was gazetted as a national monument by the Kenyan government.

The cottage, which is now a scouts’ museum, houses some of his artwork, mostly furniture and writings. The lounge is adorned with flags and scout scarves left behind by local and foreign visitors of the Museum.

The Outspan Hotel and the uncertainty of the fate of the Museum came into the limelight after the owner of the hotel, put the premises up for sale October last year.

The Hotel has remained closed since 2020 owing to the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic, which dealt a major blow on the tourism and hospitality industry.

The Kenya Scouts Association had expressed interest in purchasing the hotel, with Gitonga stating that discussions to chart the way forward were still in progress.

“Sh550 million is a lot of money, but we have involved our own property valuers to establish the actual worth of Paxtu, so that we can see if we are able to mobilize resources from a global scouting point of view. Our interests are not about getting ourselves into the hotel business, but in safeguarding Paxtu,” he said.

“I am sure we will reach a point that even if we are not able to procure the Outspan Hotel, we will be able to come to a consensus with the new management, to continue protecting the Museum and everything in it,” added Gitonga.

Gitonga was speaking in an exclusive interview with KNA, on the sidelines of the 165 celebration of the Scouts Founder’s Day in Nyeri Town.

The scouts were also celebrating 112 years since scouting began in Kenya. This year’s theme was Empowering Young People for Peace and National Cohesion and was marked by a peace caravan by scouts from Karatina to Nyeri town.

This year’s celebrations brought together over 500 local and international scouts, making it the biggest scouts camp since the outbreak of the Covid-19 in 2020.

It is estimated that the population of scouts in the world currently stands at 100 million. There are 2.1 million scouts in Kenya, 90 per cent of who are in learning institutions.

The event was graced by Principal Secretary (PS) in the State Department for Implementation of Curriculum Reforms in the Ministry of Education, Professor Fatuma Chege, who praised the Kenya Scouts Association, for embracing learners living with disability in the scouts’ movement.

She noted that the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) and scouting shared a similar role in moulding a well-rounded learner.

“I recognize the scouts’ movement in embracing the similar values as Competency Based Curriculum. Scouting provides value based knowledge, skills and attitudes that are aimed at preparing a person to play a constructive role in society, which aligns very well with CBC,” said Chege.

Also present was the Chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, Rev Samuel Kobia, and the World Organisation of the Scout Movement Africa Regional Director, Frederic Tutu Kama-Kama, who challenged the youth to embrace peace as the country nears the electioneering period.

By Wangari Mwangi

 

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