Originally a five-bedroom home away from home for law scholar, the new boutique hotel tucked in Ngiini village, Kitui is the stuff well-thought rejigs are made of.
Kitui Villa, owned by Prof Makau Mutua and his wife Prof Athena Harris, is the perfect blend of the countryside features and modern facilities of the city.
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A kilomtre away from the hustle and bustle of Kitui town, the countryside feel of dusty road, tall indigenous tree on the edges and maize plantations on the sides end the moment you step through the steely gates and step on to the concrete lobby of the villa.
And then the language, image and experience changes- you begin to speak about “strange animals” called swimming pool, Jacuzzi, business centre, gym, library and gazebo.
Original plans drawn by the “firimbi activist” Davinder Lamber, construction begun in 2014 with the levelling of the slope of a countryside. Makau’s brother Musyoka was the main contractor, his other brother Pius the accountant while the other kin played one or another role.
Unfortunately, Musyoka died in a car accident two years later. The finished product launched this week by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga features everything contemplated in the redesign, the “strange animals” plus a conference room, dining areas and walkways.
“I am a contractor myself, and I have put a tick on most of the things I have seen today,” Raila said after inspecting the facility on Tuesday.
Makau’s freed spirit is alive in the facility’s art and naming. The facilities are named after his heroes and heroines.
From his late brother who has a walkway named after him- Musyoka Way- to historical figures- Nelson Mandela, Mahtama Gandhi, Mwalimu Nyerere, Malcom X, Amilcar Cabral, Mekatilili, Dedan Kimathi and Patrice Lumumba have rooms named after them.
The gym is named after the boxing great Mohamed Ali, the conference facility after civil rights luminary Martin Luther King Jnr and the library after the man himself- Mutua. To breathe to the names, Makau contracted artist Kang’ara Hajaambi to provide all of the portraits of figures.
Local materials are distinct in the allure of the villa, from the gray stone which makes the walling, the mazeras adorning the walkways, the white and other-colored stones that grace the Ujamaa Garden sold along Machakos- Kitui road.
Local labor accounted for most of the finishing, including the woodwork done by Nzombe Furniture in Kitui Town, glasswork done by Kitui Glass, WiFi, CCTV and hotel computing system installed by Walter Mwanzia.
To run the facility in their absence, the Mutua’s tapped the services of Vincent Musebe Akala, an ex-Kenya Human Rights Commission staffer of 25 years who also doubled as a friend of Mutua and ex-Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.
“The opening of the KV by Mr Odinga in presence of Mr. Musyoka, Governor Ngilu and most of the political class in the region gave everyone an opportunity to renew and reaffirm our common commitment to a democratic Kenya and strengthen our bonds.”
“At a personal level, I felt humbled and poriviledged to be so honored. It’s the stuff of dreams. I only wish my parents were alive to witness it,” Mutua told the Sunday Standard before flying out of his village in a chopper alongside his wife, Raila and Ida.