Curtains Close on Veteran Artist Alan Donovan
Alan Donovan, the renowned African Heritage House’s founder, has died aged 83.
The celebrated thespian died quietly in his sleep Sunday morning at his home in Athi River, according to a statement from African Heritage Estate management.
He was the co-founder of African Heritage Ltd alongside Kenya’s former Vice-President Joseph Murumbi. For many decades, the Pan-African art gallery was the continent’s largest exporter of arts and crafts from Africa to the rest of the world.
The Heritage House is based in a 6acre plot alongside Mombasa road, overlooking the Nairobi National Park, is one of the most photographed buildings in Africa and appears in several international publications. It is inspired by pre-colonial African architecture such as the Great Mosque of Djenne in Mali and and Swahili homes on the East African coast.
Alan Donovan also played a big role in preserving the memory of Joseph Murumbi. Together with several friends of the Murumbis, the Murumbi Trust was founded. The Trust rehabilitated the Murumbi legacy at The Murumbi Gallery in the Kenya National Archives, The Nairobi Gallery at the old PC’s office in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) and a sculpture garden at the Murumbi Peace Memorial in Nairobi City Park.
In 2015,Donovan released the book “A Path Not Taken, the Story of Joseph Murumbi”, based on Murumbi’s own transcripts.
Donovan first came to Africa in 1967 with the US State Department as a relief officer during the Nigeria-Biafran war.
The Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pan African Broadcasting, Heritage and Achievement Awards in South Africa, for “Thirty Years of Visionary Leadership in the Arts” and “The best gallery in Africa” during the African Heritage 30th Anniversary Celebrations in 2002.
Donovan, an art collector, will be remembered for his involvement in Kenya’s cultural affairs and supporting the ideology of Pan-Africanism.