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Kenya National Archives, Nairobi

We live in a world where everyone is more aware of their history, a generation that knows that history can’t just be from the victors point of view. We want to know more, because we don’t just take what we are told, we poke holes and look at it from a new perspective then, we make a decision on whether to believe something as the gospel truth.

This may apply to some of us. Others are okay with the textbook explanation. The one that says this person is superior to the next. Or if you have to fight for something then you are changing the status quo; and it’s not ‘okay’ to do that.

Majority of us are however on the fence. We don’t know what we believe, we’ve just finished school where everything that we were meant to do was dictated. Now we’re out here. We are somehow supposed to know how everything works. Hopefully, this is without making the gravest mistakes of our lives.

This is for you, person who seeks to know a bit more about your history.

The Kenya National Archives and Documentation Services, popularly known as Archives or the place where everyone in Nairobi meets the other, was established in 1965. Most of us know the building but have never been there. You probably should go.

On the ground floor, there’s the Joseph Murumbi Gallery, named after Kenya’s second Vice President. It showcases his collection of artifacts from all over Africa which he handed over following an agreement with the Government of Kenya.

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It’s believed a lot of people wanted these collections from overseas. What I find absolutely intriguing is that he got his collection by buying it from the colonialists. Meaning the artifacts belonged to various communities in Africa but for a long time were ‘owned’ by colonialists. To the extent that Murumbi had to buy them back. I read this on some artifacts in the Archives so please don’t quote me, go read this yourself.

The artifacts are rich, from items used in warfare, to decorative sculptures, to pots, pans, kangas you name it. Standing there in the quiet hallway with only a few feet shuffling around, school going students giggling and lovers on dates pretending not to hold hands is on another level.

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Moving upstairs it gets even more magical. You see previous leaders and the periods they served in. Plus, Mrs. Murumbi’s extensive stamp collection. She was a pretty great stamp collector or philatelist if you please.

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There’s a section where you get to see famous writers from Kenya for instance the wall dedicated to Francis Imbuga.

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There’s another on Wangari Maathai and so many more Kenyans who did pretty amazing things.

In case you’re a researcher and want to read more of national or historical subjects there’s a library on the first floor than is accessible to the public on weekdays I believe.

If you haven’t been here already give it a try. If you have, visit again, they keep changing things up and you may find something new.

What you need to know;

Charges:

Ksh. 50 for Kenyan citizens

Ksh. 200 for non-residents

Operational hours:

Weekdays: 8:30am to 5:00pm

Weekends: 10:00am to 4:00pm

Photography:

Allowed only for specific sections. Ask the help desk for further clarification.

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