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Krapf Memorial: 160 years of rich history in lush green environs



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Hugging Mkomani Show Ground in Nyali, Mombasa, it could pass for just another graveyard.

The 160-year-old site however is not only a place dripping with history, it is the very cradle of Christianity in East and Central Africa.

The monument is named after Johann Ludwig Krapf, the renowned missionary, explorer and scholar born in 1810 in Germany.

Dr Krapf studied at the famous Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen from 1829 and graduated in 1834.

He then went to Basel, where he joined the Church Missionary Society (CMS), which sent him to Ethiopia in 1837 where he learnt Arabic and Amharic.

In the 1840s, arranged marriages were a common practice among missionaries.

While in Egypt, Dr Krapf met Rosine Dietrich, who was also devoted to missionary work, and married her in 1842.

They got a child, but unfortunately she died the next day. Dr Krapf and his wife arrived in Mombasa in 1844, via Zanzibar.

The same year, Mrs Krapf gave birth to their second daughter, who died a few days later. She also died that same year.

It is said that she and her children died of malaria. Inscribed on one of the stones on the memorial pillar is: “To the Glory of God and in the memory of Dr and Mrs John Ludwig Krapf.”

Dr Krapf is said to have translated the dictionary and the Book of Genesis into Kiswahili.

He was also the first missionary to introduce Christianity in Kenya, building a church in Rabai.

Dr Krapf died in 1881 in Germany aged 71. “Like Dr Livingstone, he died on his knees at prayer on November 26, 1881,” a statement on the pillar reads.

The graves of Dr Krapf’s first wife, Rosine, and their second daughter are located at the Krapf Monument.

The memorial’s magnificence — with beautiful landscaped gardens surrounding it — is a welcome addition to the Coast’s iconic sites such as Fort Jesus and the Vasco da Gama Pillar in Malindi.

The indigenous trees that provide much-needed shade at the site are complemented by a variety of flowers.

A large cactus tree has been turned into a “visitors book” where sightseers write their names and the year they visited.

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