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Baden-Powell meusium in Nyeri

Completely unaware of plans to remove a statue of the founder of the scouting movement Lord Robert Baden-Powell erected in Poole town, UK to protect it from vandalism, Nyeri residents still celebrate him.

Every year in February, scouts from all over the world troop to Nyeri County for founders Day celebrations.

The scouts who usually camp at Nyeri’s Kabiruini Grounds to commemorate the formation of the scouting movement with a culmination of a scouts visit to his grave to celebrate his accomplishments.

Unfortunately, the number of scouts visiting Nyeri County have dwindled over the years, after the Movement officials devolved the celebrations to the county level.

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But speaking to Standard Digital, most locals are not aware of the planned removal of his statue in the UK with others not even aware he had a statue in Poole town.

“I am not aware of any plan to remove his statue anywhere, what I know is that he is the scout founder and he was buried here,” Victor Kariuki, one of the locals said.

Fredrick Nderitu, another local said he only knows the February scout celebration and doesn’t know about the Statue.

“We celebrate Baden-Powell yearly he was the founder of Scout movement and he was buried in Nyeri,” he said.

Benta Njuki, a local businesswoman in Nyeri town, said as a country, Kenya has benefited as a result of the Baden-Powell museum in Nyeri hence the need for the government to protect his image.

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"People come here because he was buried here, this is vital for local tourism growth. We cannot be part of those scandalising his name," she said.

Nyeri county is uniquely placed in the scouting movement because it is the final resting place of Baden-Powell a fact, the county markets as a tourist attraction.

Baden-Powell statue in Poole town, United Kingdom. [Courtesy]

In UK, some residents have staged a sit-in around the statue in the Poole town to protect the monument from being moved to storage.

Baden-Powell and his wife Lady Olave spent his last three years in the Outspan Hotel in Nyeri County where they built a special bungalow known as Paxtu Cottage.

The home which still exists is visited by tourists and scouts from all over the world paying homage to Baden-Powell who was also buried in the town.

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To Nyeri residents, Baden-Powell is a hero who deserves respect as a scouting legend.

Buried in Nyeri

He passed away in Paxtu cottage after he chose to settle their leaving his property 'Pax Hill', in the UK hoping to avoid the political situation in Europe.

In 1939 after his retirement, writer, artist and the founder of the International Scouting Movement Robert Baden-Powell moved to a cottage he had commissioned in Nyeri and lived in the single-roomed house he named Paxtu.

The cottage, which was incorporated into Outspan Hotel, now serves as a scouting museum.

Powell, who was the first head of the Boy Scouts Association in the world, landed in Kenya during a mission to preach scouting.

He died in 1941 at the age of 83 and was buried at St Peter’s Cemetery in Nyeri.

His wife later died in Europe, but her remains were flown to Kenya and buried beside her husband’s.

Every year in February, scouts from all over the world troop to Nyeri County for founders Day celebrations.

The scouts who usually camp at Nyeri’s Kabiruini Grounds to commemorate the formation of the scouting movement with a culmination of a scouts visit to his grave to celebrate his accomplishments.

Unfortunately, the number of scouts visiting Nyeri County have dwindled over the years, after the Movement officials devolved the celebrations to the county level.

Nyeri county is uniquely placed to in the scouting movement because it is the final resting place of Baden Powell a fact, the county markets as a tourist attraction.

BlackLivesMatter demos

Currently Baden- Powell is being criticised by protesters who have accused him of racism, homophobia and supporting Adolf Hitler during the Second World War.

Demonstrations sweeping across the United States and Europe following the death of George Floyd have reignited a debate in Britain about monuments to those involved in the country’s imperialist past.

A number of sculptures have been taken down while others, such as a statue to Britain’s World War Two leader Winston Churchill, opposite parliament, have been defaced.

The council had said there were “some aspects of Robert Baden-Powell’s life that are considered less worthy of commemoration”. Police said the statue could be a target.

Erected just over a decade ago, it depicts a seated Baden-Powell looking across the harbour to Brownsea Island, where he started the scout movement in 1907.

“We know that local people feel proud of Lord Baden-Powell’s and the Scout movement’s links with Poole, and that some people feel that we would be giving in to the protesters by temporarily removing the statue,” said Mark Howell, the council’s deputy leader.

“Although we cannot say when any temporary removal may take place, we will be providing 24-hour security until it is either removed or the threat diminishes.”

Baden-Powell is widely hailed for setting up the scout movement which boasts 54 million members worldwide and in a 2007 poll, he was voted the 13th most influential person in the United Kingdom in the 20th century. But critics say he held racist views and was a supporter of Adolf Hitler and fascism.

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Baden-Powell meusium in Nyeri Poole town Nyeri County Scouting movement
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