Home NEWS County News Ngao village in Tana River poised to get a community museum

Ngao village in Tana River poised to get a community museum

The abandoned Ngao Methodist Church that was constructed by German Missionaries between the years 1903 and 1906.

Ngao village in Tana River is poised to get a community museum thanks to rehabilitation works being undertaken by the National Museums of Kenya on a more than 120 years old missionary building within the village.

The NMK has secured a 19,500 Euro (about Ksh 2.7 million) grant from Greece-based Heritage International and has embarked on renovation works on the building that was constructed between 1900 and 1902 by German missionaries who used it as a launching pad for evangelistic work among the Pokomo of Tana River after an earlier attempt to evangelized the Galla (Orma) failed.

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NMK’s Assistant Director of Museums and Monuments in charge of the Coast Region, Mr. Athman Hussein, toured the building situated in the newly created Tarasaa Sub County early this week to assess the progress of ongoing works.

He announced that the building would be converted into a small museum and made part of a tourism circuit that includes three First World War monuments in Garsen and the nearby Methodist Church.

Mr. Hussein also toured the abandoned Methodist church building (constructed between 1903 and 1906) that is in a great state of disrepair and announced that the NMK would embark on its rehabilitation after works on the missionary house are complete.

“Our objective is to renovate the entire building (the missionary house) and convert it into a small museum that will attract tourists in this sleepy village,” he said adding that this was in line with the government’s policy of utalii mashinani (grassroots tourism).

Mr. Hussein said the NMK would gazette the more than 100 years historical relics (the missionary house and the church) in partnership with the Methodist Church in Kenya so that they can continue receiving attention from Government and other partners.

“We believe that by renovating these two buildings, we will open up Ngao, Tarasaa and even Garsen which is renowned for hosting World War I monuments. All these will be connected to each other so that we form a tourism circuit,” he said.

Mr. Philip Jimbi Katana, a heritage consultant, said the two buildings were significant because of their history, the unique architecture and their connection with the church.

“This building (the missionary house) will be the first museum in Tana River and will be one of the very few community museums in the country,” said Mr. Jimbi, a retired Chief Curator at the Fort Jesus Museum in Mombasa.

The project coordinator, Mr. William Muta Saka, who is also the Curator of Jumba National Monument in Mombasa, said NMK received 19,500 Euros from Heritage International for the rehabilitation works which he said would be completed by June this year.

Mr. Edward Yesse, an administrator and author from Ngao village, said the community was elated by the ongoing works saying the history of Ngao as a Christian village will be preserved through the opening of the museum.

“It took us seven years to bring in the National Museums of Kenya. It is not easy to get funding, especially now. The whole community is ready for the museum and I know that the church will also be rehabilitated so that it can be used by members of the community,” he said.

Mr. Yesse narrated the history of evangelism in the area, which he said was conducted by the German missionaries who initially targeted the Galla (Orma community) but later turned to the Pokomo, leading to the construction of the missionary house between 1900 to 1902 and the church from 1903 to 1906.

He said the missionaries also established the Ngao Methodist Hospital (Now Ngao Sub County Hospital) as well as the Ngao Primary School (now Arap Moi Primary School) to cater for the health and educational needs of the locals.

Mama Esther Nankuni, a worshipper at the Ngao Methodist Church, said she was happy that the NMK had initiated the projects and hoped that their church building would be restored so that they can stop worshipping in a mabati structure next to the main church building, which they abandoned after it started collapsing.

Charo Mashanga Tsofa, the chairman of a local community-based organization welcomed the project and called for the renovation and improvement of the hospital and the school, which he said were in bad states of disrepair.

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