In focus: Nairobi’s fascinating Karen Blixen Museum
Known most famously for her worldly narrative set against the backdrop of a rapidly changing world, Karen Blixen was a Danish author that altered the world’s perspective of the European connection with the outer colonies.
The Karen Blixen Museum on the outskirts of Nairobi is one of the city’s top tourist destinations and represents one of the most fulfilling pursuits on personalised Kenya holidays.
The museum honours the author and assists in demonstrating the different light Blixen shone on the history of Kenya. It is a destination for travellers seeking an alternate understanding of the development of the East African country.
Originally born in Rungsted, Denmark in 1885, Blixen moved to Kenya in 1913 (which was then known as British East Africa) with her husband and started a coffee plantation.
After 18 years in which Blixen formed friendships with the local workers she and her husband employed, she was eventually ended up broke via the great depression and subsequently returned to Denmark.
Out of Africa
After moving back to Denmark, she wrote what is known as arguably her greatest piece “Out of Africa” under her pseudonym Isek Dinesenand.
Nairobi’s museum pays tribute to this piece of writing which formed an alternative narrative encompassing colonial Africa.
The book shed a harsh light on the struggles that colonial powers endured in the African colonies while detailing friendships with the Kikuyu natives who lived on the farm when Blixen and her husband arrived.
Through recreating the Blixen homestead including the household equipment Karen Blixen once used, the serene gardens that surrounded it and the indigenous forest that was present during the period, the Kenyan government pays tribute to Karen Blixen’s legacy and her impact on the relations between Kenya and colonial residents.
A tour of the house is the attractions highlight as many original items of Blixen’s remain in their places as if the Danish author was still a resident.
The Ngong Hills around Nairobi’s outskirts looming above the coffee plantation are also a highlight of the attraction. Immortalised in “Out of Africa”, Blixen nostalgically recollects the hills as playing a large part of her African identity.
Nairobi at a glance
Nairobi’s identity has remained synonymous with an African urban centre coping with a long-term historical colonial presence.
With the Nairobi National Museum and National Railway Museum representing equally fulfilling pursuits, the city has become more popular with foreign travellers looking for more of a genuine African urban experience.