Nairobi, Kenya. "I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Mountains." This is the beginning of one of the most beautiful Africa films ever produced. The basis for the film " Out of Africa" is the novel "The African Farm", which Karen Blixen wrote in Denmark in 1937. The farmhouse where Karen Blixen lived for 17 years and where parts of the film were shot is now a museum. When you visit, you feel transported to another time and could almost think that you are suddenly in the middle of this fantastic film yourself. An absolute "must" for all fans. On a guided tour through the museum you will learn many interesting things about the life of Karen Blixen on the coffee farm on the edge of the Ngong Mountains.
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Who was Karen Blixen?
Karen Blixen was born in 1885 and grew up in Rungsted on the coast of Denmark. At 29, she married her Swedish half-cousin, Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke. They both had a great love of adventure in common. They soon left Denmark to start a new life in Kenya. The couple bought the Mbogani farmhouse near the Ngong Mountains in 1917. This became the heart of their 4500 hectare farm with the approximately 600 hectare coffee plantation. Karen ran the farm almost alone, while her spouse preferred to enjoy big game hunting. More than 1000 people worked for her, there was medical care and even a school.
But the coffee farm was not doing very well. It was located at about 2,000 meters, too high for coffee cultivation, and the soil was also too acidic. Drought, plagues of locusts, floods, epidemics and a fire repeatedly presented Karen Blixen with new challenges. The marriage did not go well either, and they finally divorced in 1925.
Karen continued to run the financially struggling farm on her own. Finally, Karen found new happiness in her relationship with the Englishman Denys Finch Hatton. But the happiness was short-lived: in 1931 Denys crashed his plane in Tsavo West National Park and died. In the same year, Karen finally had to sell her coffee farm at a forced auction. She then left Kenya and returned to the family estate in Rungsted. There she devoted herself to writing and published several major works. In 1937, she finally published her book "The African Farm." In 1962, Karen Blixen died in Denmark at the age of 77. More than 20 years later, in 1985, her novel was made into a film starring Meryl Streep, Robert Redford and Klaus Maria Brandauer. The film "Out of Africa" won several Oscars and made the Danish author world famous.
Karen Blixen's pseudonym on the German book market is usually Tania Blixen. Her English-language books, on the other hand, mostly appeared under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen.
The Karen Blixen Museum
In 1964, the Danish government purchased the farmhouse where Karen Blixen lived from 1917 to 1931 and donated it to Kenya to celebrate its independence from Great Britain. The property was initially used as a home economics school. In 1985, filming for "Out of Africa" began here. Subsequently, the National Museums of Kenya acquired the property to open a museum here.
With the help of a donation from the film production company Universal Films, the house was renovated and furnished in the style of the time. For this purpose, it was even possible to buy back many pieces of furniture that Karen Blixen had sold before she left Africa. In addition to furniture, furnishings and hunting trophies, old photos and books are on display. Furthermore, the bronze bust of Karen Blixen, made by the artist Harald Isenstein, can be admired. Today, the house offers a unique insight into the everyday life of the coffee farmer.
The museum consists of the old Mbogani main house, a separate kitchen building, a coffee drying area and a large park-like garden. Between tall eucalyptus trees and palms, old carts and individual farm implements from long ago are on display. The flat bungalow with its verandas, however, is smaller than I expected. It was built in 1912 according to plans by Swedish architect Ake Sjogren. At that time, the capital Nairobi was still about 10 kilometers away. Today, the city's suburbs have grown up around the former farm. Now, mainly ministers and government officials live in the upscale suburb of Karen.
From the property you have a good view of the peaks of the Ngong Mountains, where Karen Blixen had her lover Dennis Finch Hatton buried in 1931.
The museum is open daily from 9:30 to 18:00.
Guided tours are offered continuously.
Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the museum.
Tip: After the Karen Blixen Museum, visit the Giraffe Centre Nairobi.It is also located in the suburb of Karen and is known for the conservation breeding of the endangered Rothschild giraffes.
Book recommendations for Kenya
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Do you know the Karen Blixen Museum in Nairobi? How did you like it? Do you have any questions or suggestions regarding my article? If so, please write me a comment!
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