African Heritage Jewellery
THEN there was the African Heritage Jewellery: stunning creations from ancient beads and components, from all parts of Africa. For several decades, African Heritage Jewellery was the continent’s largest exporter of jewellery and adornment from Africa. The innovative Global Jewellery was sold exclusively through the original Banana Republic stores in the USA.
African Heritage Gallery
LATER there was African Heritage Ltd, Africa’s first Pan African Gallery, which he co-founded with the former vice-president of Kenya, Mr. Joseph Murumbi and his wife, Sheila. The World Bank called it “the largest and most organized craft organization in Africa…a pioneer that raised African handicrafts from souvenir trinkets to Objet d’art with world class appeal”. When African Heritage closed in 2003, it had more than 500 full time employees, over 50 outlets around the world, and many thousands supplying items on a consignment basis. The Tuesday African Heritage Buying Day morphed into the Maasai Markets, which are now held every day at locations in Nairobi and beyond.
Kenya’s African Heritage Festival
FOLLOWING was Kenya’s African Heritage Festival, a galaxy of authentic African costumes, music, dance, original African fashions created of the hand-woven and hand- printed textiles of Africa, and cuisine that travelled the world for over three decades. The African Heritage Band(s) emerged from this festival along with many other African musical groups. A young musician and his group called Papillon are the latest sensation.
African Heritage House
LATER, Alan Donovan constructed the African Heritage House, based on the continent’s pre-colonial mud architectures — and the Swahili houses of Coastal East Africa – he encountered during his travels across the continent. The prestigious Architectural Digest described the house as “rising from the sere Kenyan plain, like an outcropping of earth, a vision of usefulness informed by the African genius for decoration.”
African Heritage Book
THEN, there was Alan Donovan’s memoir, entitled “My Journey through African Heritage” which, like his house, is a unique documentary you’ll not forget about a people, a country, and a man who would not give up as a promoter and catalyst of art and culture in Africa and throughout the world.
AFTER African Heritage closed in 2003, Alan formed the Murumbi Trust with several friends of the Murumbi’s. Under his direction, the Trust rehabilitated, repaired and displayed the Murumbi legacy at The Murumbi Gallery in the Kenya National Archives, The Nairobi Gallery at the old PC’s office in the city centre, and a sculpture garden at the Murumbi Peace Memorial in City Park. In 2015, Alan released “A Path Not Taken”, the Story of Joseph Murumbi”, based on Murumbi’s own transcripts.
THROUGHOUT his time in Kenya, Alan has created African interiors and African displays with such clients as the Serena Hotels, The Carnivore, Tamambo, and Strathmore University as well as for private residents.
Homestays at African Heritage House
He continues to host countless guests at the African Heritage House with overnight stays, tours, meals, events and train trips to the house.