Passionate teacher who turned his compound into a museum
By Stephen Rutto
| July 27th 2021
A thriving Olea Africana welomes visitors to Wilson Kangogo’s home in Kipkenda, Elgeyo Marakwet County.
Despite a modest gate, the home of Kipkenda Primary school headteacher is not an ordinary one. It is a rich collection of heritage known as Keiyo Museum. The Olea Africana is labelled ‘Wangare Maathai’, after the late Nobel Laureate. It was planted on October 8, 2011, during the cremation of the environmentalist.
Inside Kangogo’s museum, a visitor will be dazzled by historical artifacts. From music players of the 1950s, traditional utensils, ancient grain grinding machines, photographs and news stories of key political and sports events. Kangogo is preserving history in ten houses that surround the family house. He started preserving artifacts in 1994, just a year completing Form Four at Marakwet Boys High School.
He has praise songs for former presidents Daniel Moi and Jomo Kenyatta in a house named ‘President Moi’s State Lodge’. There is 1947 Standard Four English and Kiswahili exercise books belonging to his grandfather who schooled at Tambach Primary school during the colonial period. He was a carpenter and died in 2007.
“I preserve so that the next generation knows where we came from and to recognize our heroes,” Kangogo says. He continues: “Our children don’t know that the plates and cups that were used years ago were made of wood by sculptors.”
A few metres from the gate is Thomas Jefferson house where he keeps laminated pictures and profiles of presidents across the world and updates their profiles like the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. He named it after the third US President who was an environmentalist and scholar like him.
“I have named the second house Kipkoech Sambu who is a historian. Here I preserve pictures of Kenyan presidents, flags of African countries and United Nations Secretary Generals among other personalities who shaped Africa’s history,” Kangogo says. “History students have been visiting for research while herbalists come to pick the medicinal plants we grow.”
At the Kipkoech Sambu House he has preserved an analogue Great World television, which was operational until 1990. He also keeps pictures of Kapenguria Six – Bildad Kaggia, Kung’u Karumba, Jomo Kenyatta, Fred Kubai, Paul Ngei, and Achieng’ Oneko as well a picture of Uhuru Kenyatta and Margaret during their wedding in 1989.
At Leonardo da Vinci House, he preserves Kalenjin community artifacts like gourds for mursik, Keiyo and Pokot traditional seats and baskets used to carry water pots.
“I inherited some artifacts from my parents and grandparents. I have also bought others which are rare to find,” Kangogo explains showing a 1960 music player powered by dry cells. “I have modified the ancient record players to use electricity because I want to preserve functional artefacts.” The headteacher has the history of Lou Ottens, the Dutchman who invented the cassette and died in March this year.
Other houses are named after Nelson Mandela, Thomas Sankara, Tom Mboya, Eliud Kipchoge and Mekatilili Wa Menza. He declined to open a house named after world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge. “I preserve all Kipchoge’s historic achievements. I can’t allow you in because I want him to visit after the Olympic Games. I have tried to make every house comfortable. Some houses have beds where a guest can spend the night if they wish,” he explains.
The compound has parks named after Wangare Maathai and Moi, populated with trees including an Aloe Vera planted when Moi died in February last year.
“Moi’s State Lodge is special to me because I loved his leadership. I preserve stereo record player and discs with Moi’s praise songs. I also preserve pictures of athletes such as Mike Boit, Kipchoge Keino and Wilson Kiprugut Chumo among others.”
His wife Evelyne Kimutai says: “He cherishes it and it is my responsibility to support him by taking good care of the artefacts and the trees.”
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