Inauguration of the Krapf Memorial in Mombasa
Opening speech by Ambassador Margit Hellwig-Boette on October 18, 2009
The Krapf Memorial Heritage Park, originally designed over 160 years ago, has been renovated in the last few years. This undertaking was a very successful joint venture between the National Museum of Kenya and the German Embassy in Nairobi, one of them providing the funds and the other one know-how and expertise.
Enlarge image (© German Embassy Nairobi) Regarding the expertise, please allow me to point out that the whole project would not have been realised without the engagement of our former Honorary Consul Sadique Ghalia. Therefore, a very special "asante sana" to you, dear Mr. Ghalia, and a big hand for him!
Ludwig Krapf must have been a fascinating personality. Coming from a remote rural area in Germany, he became a missionary and went to Africa. In his personal life he had to endure many hardships, such as the loss of his first wife and two newly born children, also commemorated by the Memorial. He was the first European to see Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimandscharo, and when he told his fellow Europeans back home that he had seen snow in Africa, they thought he was mad.
More than a missionary, he was a pioneer as an explorer in East Africa. And, what was very important for him: he wanted to build cultural bridges between Europe and Africa. He wrote the first grammar book of Swaheli and adapted the Roman alphabet to Swaheli. In doing so he served as a kind of gate opener for Subsahara Africa to Europe. (Until the second half of the 19th century Subsahara Africa was only a white and blind spot on the geographic world map of the old European world.)
Through all his activities, Ludwig Krapf became the first 'German Ambassador' to East Africa. To honor him, the building of the German Embassy in Nairobi has been named Ludwig Krapf House.
In my new capacity as the German Ambassador to Kenya I am proud to re-open this Memorial today and in doing so, to launch the German Cultural Weeks 2009 in Kenya!