40-year cultural odyssey to meet the return of a cultural legend

In 2003, Kenya’s famous pan-African gallery, African Heritage, co-founded by Alan Donovan and former Vice-President Joseph Murumbi, closed down its 51 outlets worldwide and suspended its shows highlighting African culture, textiles and fashions through Kenya’s African Heritage Festival that had travelled the world with its troupe of models, musicians, acrobats, stilt walkers, chefs, hairdressers and others.

The last major tour of Kenya’s African Heritage Festival was across Kenya to 23 Kenyan hotels, heralding the African Millennium in 1999-2000 after two nights of shows on a specially built metal catwalk over the pool of Nairobi Serena.

The shows were in honour of the double volume opus African Ceremonies, by the intrepid photographers Angela Fisher and Carol Beckiwth, who signed hundreds of their books during the tour.

In 1998, African Heritage had travelled to South Africa to produce the African Renaissance show for 4,000 guests arriving for the First Telecoms Conference in Africa. African Heritage made its last European tour in l995, to 11 cities with its troupe packed into a luxury bus, followed by a caravan of lorries loaded with plants, lighting and sound equipment, musical instruments, costumes and fashions, plants and hand painted murals to transform every venue into Kenya with scenes of the Kenya Coast, mountains and game parks, courtesy of Lufthansa Airlines and the Hotel Intercontinental. The Hotel Intercontinental was the site of the debut of the first African Heritage Night nearly 50 years ago in 1971.

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