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African Heritage founder Alan Donovan dies

donovan

Founder of African Heritage Alan Donovan. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Donovan came to Kenya more than 50 years ago and would play a unique role in the cultural affairs of the country and continent by dedicating his life to collecting art and preserving the African heritage.

Alan Donovan, the founder of African Heritage Estates, is dead.
African Heritage Estates manager Tom Otieno confirmed to  Business Daily that Donovan died peacefully in his sleep Sunday morning at his home in Athi River.

Donovan came to Kenya more than 50 years ago and would play a unique role in the cultural affairs of the country and continent by dedicating his life to collecting art and preserving the African heritage.

“Together with Kenya’s first vice-president Joseph Murumbi, Donovan [founded] the African Heritage Gallery and [created] the African Heritage House,” a statement on the company’s website reads.

He had arrived in Africa in 1967 with the US State Department as a relief officer during the Nigerian-Biafra war, a post he resigned from two years later.  

African art

Overlooking Nairobi National Park, African Heritage House is a marvel of comprising mud architectures from across the continent, showcasing “African culture and heritage and contains an invaluable collection of African art.”

Donovan was widely travelled, often taking with him on world tours models, dancers, acrobats and musicians.  

He was also a Yoruba chief, a title bestowed upon him by Yoruba chiefs in March 2019.

Business at the estate will be suspended for the next three days to mourn its founder, the statement said. The body has been taken to Lee Funeral Home, as burial arrangements start.

On Sunday, friends and art lovers took to social media to eulogise Donovan. 

Former dean of school of Law at Strathmore University Prof Luis Franceschi, mourned him as a legend, writing on Twitter: "Alan Donovan, a man in love with the African soul, soil and sound, a wonderful human being, a defender of African art and African artists." 

Machakos County Governor Dr Alfred Mutua described Donovan as "a force that touched lives" and a "great pioneer of African arts".

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