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Krapf Monument and Heritage Park

By | August 19th 2010


Johannes Ludwig Krapf, a missionary, explorer and scholar, was born 200 years ago. He was the first to introduce Christianity to Kenya and also informed people in Europe about Africa, her people, languages, geography and cultures.

It is for this reason that the German Embassy has named its office building in Nairobi ‘Dr Ludwig Krapf House,’ making him the first non-official German ambassador.

He was also the first white man to sight Mount Kenya and tell the world about it. Krapf is also remembered as a great linguist who produced the first Swahili dictionary, translating it from Arabic into Roman script.

To keep his feats alive, the Krapf Memorial was unveiled some 160 years ago in Mkomani, Mombasa. However, over the years, the site has been forgotten and left to deteriorate.

Dr Krapf monument in Mkomani Mombasa.

The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) restored it to commemorate the influence Dr Ludwig Krapf left.


The German Embassy under their cultural preservation programme to safeguard cultural heritage donated Sh1.35 million to restore the monument back to its previous glory. It was rehabilitated under the leadership of Philip Jimbe Katana, the chief curator of Fort Jesus. The monument’s splendour, with beautiful landscaped gardens surrounding it, adds to Mombasa’s rich historic sites.

Dr Krapf was born in January 1810 in Germany. In 1829 he studied at the famous University in Tuebingen and went to Basel where he joined Church Missionary Society (CMS), which sent him to Ethiopia in 1837.

He stayed there until 1842 and learnt Arabic and Amharic, an ancient language of the Orthodox Church.

At that time, arranged marriages were a common practice among missionaries. He met Rosine Dietrich; a strong lady devoted to missionary work and married her in 1842. His first child, a girl, was born and died the following day.

Two graves

Via Zanzibar, Krapf arrived in Mombasa in 1844. The same year Rosine Krapf gave birth to their second daughter who also died a few days later. His wife sadly passed away in July that same year and was buried according to her wish in Mombasa mainland.

The graves of his first wife Rosine and their second daughter can be found at the Krapf monument.

Johannes Rebmann, another missionary from the CMS arrived in 1846 and they both moved to Rabai to establish a station there where Rebman helped Krapf prepare his Swahili dictionary.

After extensive travel to East Africa, Ethiopia and other countries, Krapf died in Germany on November 26, 1881 at the age of 71.

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