ART AND LEGACY

A memorial trip across America

It was a chance to sell US home and move art collections to Kenya

In Summary

• The work of African Heritage carry on as a conduit to the diversity, creativity of Africa

The wide open spaces of the Grand Canyon contrast with a trip to the glitzy glamor of Las Vegas
The wide open spaces of the Grand Canyon contrast with a trip to the glitzy glamor of Las Vegas
Image: PAUL EKHABA

There comes a time in life when one must think of their legacy and mull over final projects. I had plenty of time during the pandemic to think about that while writing two books, including one to be published soon called Black beauty through the ages, in which I profile hundreds of black women from prehistoric times to the present.

The time also came when I decided to sell my home in America and move my art collections to Kenya, where I will install them in a Memorial House based on the Gurunsi mud architecture of Northern Ghana and Burkina Faso.

When I put the African Heritage House in Kenya up for sale, it attracted the Open Society Foundations —not to buy the house but to help me reform and strengthen the Donovan Murumbi African Heritage Trust. Thus, Open Society Foundations formed a “brain trust” to work out all the pressing needs of the African Heritage House and the Murumbi legacy.

Meanwhile, selling my house in the US and sorting, packing, donating, shipping, storing all the contents and collections acquired over the past 50 years was an ordeal, yes. Yet it yielded the trip of a lifetime for myself and cameraman and assistant Paul Ekhaba in the midst of a pandemic.

We spent three months in the US, based in Los Angeles, exploring California, visiting friends and my nephew, David, who designs book covers in glitzy Las Vegas. These photos record the highlights of that trip and the inspiration for my Gurunsi Memorial House. This will hold the art objects we repatriated to Kenya from the US and from Paris, where I was associated with As ART Galleries, now located in an idyllic haven in an old millhouse north of the city of Paris, filled with floors of African art and crafts.

It is through the efforts of As Art that we shall see the work of African Heritage carry on as a conduit and catalyst to the rest of the world to share the diversity and creativity of Africa.