The Ofafa Hall “Ambrose Ofafa Memorial Building Complex” Kisumu

The Ambrose Ofafa Memorial building complex was built in memory of a well-known and highly admired politician in Kenya: Ambrose Michael Ofafa. Ofafa, a nationalist politician, was shot and critically injured during an alleged highway robbery in Nairobi on 24 November, 1953. He died two days later of his injuries on 26 November, 1953.
After Ambrose Ofafa’s death, the colonial government and his supporters and admirers decided to put up new buildings in various towns in Kenya in his honor and memory. These buildings therefore hold much historical significance. Unfortunately, the building complex as well as the main Ambrose Ofafa Memorial Hall in Kisumu are in a dilapidated state. This essay seeks to discuss the history and current state of affairs around the Ambrose Ofafa Memorial complex in order to encourage the national as well as the county governments to secure, preserve, and protect it as well as other well known historical buildings and monuments in Kenya.

The fading cream-colored paint peeling off the wall tells you that the building has not had a brush with fresh paint for a very long time. The concrete steps leading into various rooms in the building are frayed in various places, and the terrace snaking around the building is marked in various places by small, shallow potholes.

The building has been portioned into several rooms offering various disorganized and discordant services. One room seems to be a clinic. Another is a store selling groceries. Another room is an archive of some sort storing old documents, photographs, and artifacts related to the history of the Luo community. Another is a very big hall; we are told it serves as gallery where various educational, cultural, and political events are periodically held. It is empty at the moment.

Adjacent to this building, are several other buildings in various stages of completion. One has been converted into a church where a religious group offers service mainly on Sundays, and yet another one serves as a tavern offering busaa, muratina, and other alcoholic beverages. A slender young man stands next to a small tin-roofed building, surveying a small, dusty car. He walks sluggishly into the building, grabs a bucket of water, wets a rug in the water, and rubs a small bar of soap into the rug before moving back to the dusty car ready to wash it.

Welcome to Ambrose Ofafa Memorial Building Complex in Kisumu. When you look at the disorganized state of this complex and the nature of discordant services offered in the adjacent buildings, you would not believe that this building is or ought to be one of the most famous buildings in Kisumu, brimming with history, constructed in memory of one of the most illustrious nationalists in the history of Kenya.

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