The compound, some
100 yards from the main house, was the oldest building on the
Kyango property. Two broad acacia trees flanked it on either side.
Daniel was told that in his grandfathers generation, this
had been the main, or great house, for the Kyango tribe. While
he was growing up, it was the home of his fathers brother,
Stanlee, and his family. Built of an imported dark oak, and two
stories high, it was a venerable reminder of the early settlements.
Daniels parents, Lennard and Mary Kyango, were the ones
that began the conversion of the some of the family acreage into
lodgings. They correctly foresaw the need for civilized
housing for visitors from the bigger cities, who would desire
to visit the Masai Mara region of Kenya.
When the cries of Uhuru
eventually brought Kenya political independence and freedom in
the early 60s, Daniels parents put together a plan
that would create a prosperous future for not only themselves,
but also future generations. It centered on creating two sources
of income for the family. They would continue to commit the greater
portion of their land to rangeland and agriculture, their traditional
businesses, they decided. This would allow them to maintain cash
crops through all the growing seasons. Also, they would keep a
wide swath of their rangeland open to the migratory patterns of
both the indigenous Masai tribes and the wildebeest. However,
on a 4-acre tract that fronted onto the main road, they would
construct the most enviable resort in all of South Central Kenya.
This was to be named the Harambee Lodge. It would be dedicated
to the principle of Harambee, a popular vision of that time, of
people working together for the same goal.
Over the period of
5 years, they birthed that vision. They built a new Great
House in the traditional colonial fashion of the British,
who had claimed and ruled Kenya for some 100 years as a protectorate.
It housed the reception areas, library, and the meet and
eat rooms for the visitors. The upstairs of this great house
was dedicated to Lennard and Mary and their family. This was the
home that later Daniel was born and grew up in. Now, 40 years
later, it was his familys home. And hopefully, Daniels
children, now upstairs, were getting dressed.
To the left of the
compound were two distinct buildings that served as housing for
the guests of the lodge. While unique in design, they were both
painted the same soft light orange hue. It was here in these two
buildings that the majority of the paying lodge guests were housed.
The Harambee Lodge, when finally opened to the public in 1971,
had a first (and at that point, only) building containing 42 rooms.
Of these, 12 were larger more luxurious suites. As Kenyan tourism
grew in general and the Harambee Lodge in particular, developed
an International reputation, the family shrewdly renovated the
property. Asian, Arab, and visitors from the Americas had now
joined the first wave of British and European tourist. Their hosts
quickly realized that here, peering into the wild beauty of jungle
life; international visitors needed a touch of home. So the Victoria
building as it came to be known, adapted to changing times and
changing clientele. Rooms were all adapted to suites richly furnished
in the most cosmopolitan of fashions. The Victoria wing of the
lodge echoed the civilized tone of Queen Victoria of England and
Lake Victoria, Kenyas large fresh water lake (named after
the queen) some 4 hours away. Guests wanted to order a tempo
nabidi, a cool glass of their hometown Heineken or Becks
beer that would be as important to them as a day safari or the
amazing spectacle of the wildebeest migration.
The second of the lodge
houses, nicknamed Kenyata Village, was built and designed by Daniel
and his father soon after Daniels return to Kenya after
his University days. With the vision and idealism of both his
youth and the times he was brought up within, Daniel implored
Lennard to weave traditional Kenyan and Masai culture into the
Harambee Lodge. Kenya, was To Daniel, Kenya was the cradle of
civilization, a privilege for the worlds non African cultures.
Africa was not a colonial prize; it was a shrine to the sacred
origins of life on this planet. The culture of Kenya likewise
had successfully endured and maintained a salubrious relationship
with the myriad forms of life - human, animal, and magical - that
had cohabited this region with them. Africa was not to be a poachers
stomping ground. Daniel was certain that in time that the lands
of his origin would regain stature within the eyes of the worlds
community. Lennard heard his son and acceded to his request. The
Kenyata building, completed in 1976, was the result.
The Kenyata wing was
a unique, visual, and architectural marvel. It was designed in
a circle. Rooms were pie shaped, though about one third of that
pie, its center, had been set aside by the architects as
common courtyard area. A large banyan tree transported from India
sat in the center of the common area. Tulips from Holland, iriss
from England, and other flowers more traditionally seen in European
gardens or castles were arranged around this tree. This was symbolic
of the visitors from overseas who had come to Kenya to feel its
Radiating out from
this banyan sanctuary was an open space that during seminar season
was used to stage outdoor classes and the occasional musical or
song night. A well manicured lawn gave way to the rich red clay
pathway that embroidered the edges of the common area. This path
ran adjacent to the small outdoor porches that adorned each of
the guest rooms. One of the Kenyata wings guilty pleasures
was a formal English Tea that was delivered to the
porches of seminar guests after Zap held court in his unique and
(To be Continued)