Into Africa… with “Out Of Africa” and Karen Blixen

FarmFront

FarmFront

Morten and I are in Kenya right now, some of our good friends are getting married in Mombassa on april 19th, so we thought we would extend the stay and experience a little of Kenya while here. Currently we are in Nairobi and yesterday we went to the Karen Blixen Museum.

It was so cool and surreal to see the farm peeping through the trees as we approached and I got really excited.

You never know from seeing pictures and researching beforehand, what a place is really going to be like. Is it going to be bigger or smaller.. but it was exactly how I imagined it, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Entrance

I know, the house probably wouldn’t make it on a “worlds most beautiful architecture”-list, but I thought it was stunning. The white window frames, subtle gables, beautiful rustic roof tiles and sweeping porch made a beautiful composition.

SamuelTractor
Sami ON the exhibition:)

We invited our driver Samuel to take the tour with us, since he had never been inside.

Tip: If you ever need a good trustworthy driver in Nairobi, call Samuel!
This is his number: 0723 419 501

Entrance fee is 1000 KSH(11 USD) for tourists and includes a private guided tour. The atmosphere at the farm was amazing, it had such a good vibe to and our guide was happy and cheerful.

coffee
Our guide showing us how a coffee plant looks like..

If you don´t know her, Karen Blixen was a Danish writer, who lived in Kenya for 17 years (1914-31). With her husband Bror Baron Von Blixen, she owned this coffee farm 10 km outside of Nairobi.

She pretty much ran the farm on her own, since her husband would rather go on safaris and shoot lions.

Lion
This Lion head was on the floor in the bedroom… nice way to be greeted in the morning!

Fun fact: Karen was actually in love with her husbands brother first, but realising she could never have him, she made the proposition to his brother.
It was more of a business deal, she wanted adventure but couldn’t get it as an unmarried woman, and Bror needed money, which Karen had.. I’m glad things have change since then;)

FArmHistory
1: Karen and her brother in kenya 1922. 2: The desk where she started many of her books. 3: A cabinet build entirely from turdle-shell. 4: The reading nook. 5: An old map of the farm.

Karen was different from most other white colonists, she loved Kenya and cared deeply about the Kenyan people. She made an effort to get to know them and their customs.

She employes around 700 native workers on her farm, who were all payed for their work (normally they were more like slaves) and started a school for the children.

Fun Fact: The Masai believe that the Ngong Hills were made when their God got very angry and smashed his left hand into the ground. That’s why it looks like 4 knuckles sticking out of the ground.

NgongHills
The Ngong Hills in the background

When Karen went back to Denmark she wrote 9 books, all publish under male names of course.. women weren’t allowed to publish anything back then.

Her most famous one “Out of Africa” was made into an Oscar winning movie by the same name in 1985.
I watched the movie before leaving and I am glad I did, it’s very true to her real life… and who doesn’t love Meryl Streep?

Yes I love history, and it might not be everyones dream, but I would love to go do some time traveling! Just for one day experience; life on the farm, Kenya at that time, the different tribes and their customs. Have a conversation with Karen and hear her tell stories.

Bench

Go there, sit on a shaded bench in the garden and just enjoy the view of the gardens, the house and the Ngong Hills in the background:)

Karens Coffee farm wasn’t a financial success, but she did get one of there biggest dreams fulfilled.. she got out of Denmark and got some adventure.. sounds familiar?:)

4 Comment

  1. Fantastic! I just watched Out of Africa for the first time recently and am planning my own trip to Africa next year so this post is very interesting! I will have to make sure to visit this place!

    1. So glad you like it and might be going:) The movie “out of Africa” gives a fantastic view into that time of Kenya:)

  2. Jonas says: Reply

    Good post 🙂 Karen Blixen sure was an amazing person!

    Another fun fact: Karen Blixens house and land was sold after she left Kenya. Centuries later the Danish government bought back the house and land, turned it into a museum and gave it to the Kenyan government as a gift. This was the first official museum in the history of Kenya. So even after her death, her legacy still creates history.

    1. wow I didn’t know that. A little crazy to buy the land and then sell it back… maybe the museum wouldn’t have been made if the Danish government hadn’t bought it.

      The guide also told us, that when Karen left, she auctioned off all of her furniture. One lady bought almost all of it, so when they started the museum they were able to buy most of it back through just one person.. very handy:)

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