Inside Makau Mutua’s posh hotel where rooms are named after freedom fighters

Prof Makau Mutua and his wife Prof Athena Harris owns the magnificent Kitui Villa, which is the perfect blend of the countryside features and modern facilities of the city.

A kilometre away from the hustle and bustle of Kitui town, the countryside feel of dusty road, tall indigenous tree on the edges and maize plantations on the sides end the moment you step through the steely gates and step on to the concrete lobby of the villa.

From left: Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, ODM’s Raila Odinga, Ida Odinga and Makau Mutua cut a cake during the opening Kitui Villa Hotel on July 10, 2018.THE STANDARD

And then the language, image and experience changes- you begin to speak about “strange animals” called swimming pool, Jacuzzi, business centre, gym, library and gazebo.

Original plans drawn by the “firimbi activist” Davinder Lamber, construction begun in 2014 with the levelling of the slope of a countryside. Makau’s brother Musyoka was the main contractor, his other brother Pius the accountant while the other kin played one or another role.

Unfortunately, Musyoka died in a car accident two years later. The finished product launched this week by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga features everything contemplated in the redesign, the “strange animals” plus a conference room, dining areas and walkways.

“I am a contractor myself, and I have put a tick on most of the things I have seen today,” Raila said after inspecting the facility on Tuesday.

Makau’s freed spirit is alive in the facility’s art and naming. The facilities are named after his heroes and heroines.

A lounge at the Kitui Villa hotel in Kitui County.

From his late brother who has a walkway named after him- Musyoka Way- to historical figures- Nelson Mandela, Mahtama Gandhi, Mwalimu Nyerere, Malcom X, Amilcar Cabral, Mekatilili, Dedan Kimathi and Patrice Lumumba have rooms named after them.

The gym is named after the boxing great Mohamed Ali, the conference facility after civil rights luminary Martin Luther King Jnr and the library after the man himself- Mutua. To breathe to the names, Makau contracted artist Kang’ara Hajaambi to provide all of the portraits of figures.

Local materials are distinct in the allure of the villa, from the gray stone which makes the walling, the mazeras adorning the walkways, the white and other-colored stones that grace the Ujamaa Garden sold along Machakos- Kitui road.

Local labor accounted for most of the finishing, including the woodwork done by Nzombe Furniture in Kitui Town, glasswork done by Kitui Glass, WiFi, CCTV and hotel computing system installed by Walter Mwanzia.

To run the facility in their absence, the Mutua’s tapped the services of Vincent Musebe Akala, an ex-Kenya Human Rights Commission staffer of 25 years who also doubled as a friend of Mutua and ex-Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.

A room inside the Kitui Villa in Kitui county.

The restaurant is complete with conference facilities, a bar, a heated swimming pool, wifi, hot showers, conference facilities and boasts of satellite TVs, a library, an air-conditioned setting, a modern gym, and a children’s pool connected with the adult’s pool.

It was officially opened by the ODM leader Raila Odinga on July 10, 2018, in the presence of Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Kitu Governor Charity Ngilu and a host of other political leaders.

Here are more photos…


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