Why Mzee Jomo Kenyatta's mausoleum needs to be opened to the public

The site is only accessible to a few government dignitaries and military

As is tradition, President Uhuru Kenyatta, together with close family members and senior government officials, will lay wreaths at his mausoleum in parliament's precincts.

However, four decades after his death, Kenyans still cannot get a glimpse of Mzee Kenyatta's final resting place.

The facility, right in the heart of Kenya's capital Nairobi, is heavily guarded by the Kenya Defence Forces and prior arrangements must be made before paying it a visit.

Those who are lucky enough can catch a glimpse of the mausoleum during the annual commemoration of Mzee Kenyatta’s death every August 22.

The sparkling mausoleum boasts gold and gemstones as well as decorated statues of lions on both sides of the entrance, perhaps reflecting the courageous life of Mzee Kenyatta.

Public viewing

And despite the government spending millions of taxpayers’ money to keep the mausoleum in shape, the site is only accessible to a few government dignitaries and military.

This despite fervent calls by political leaders and Kenyans at large to have the tomb opened for public viewing.

Chuka MP Muthomi Njuki sponsored a bill that seeks to help the government earn revenue by opening the mausoleum to the public.

It provides the legal framework for public access to the grounds as well as management of the mausoleum as a tourist attraction site.

According to him, converting the mausoleum into a tourist attraction site helps preserve Kenya’s heritage and generate the country revenue.

Indeed, other countries worldwide continue to benefit financially, culturally, academically and socially from their heroes and heroines’ mausoleums.

Kwame Nkrumah

A good example is in Ghana, the mausoleum of the country’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, is open to the public upon payment of a prescribed fee.

The facility is a tourist attraction due to its significance as a dedication to the revered Ghanaian leader.

Therefore, Mr Njuki's proposal to open up the Kenyatta mausoleum could not have come at a better time.

It is high time the government let Kenyans of all walks of life to access the graveyard of their founding father.

And as one Dr Adams Oloo, a political scientist, said: "Preserving the body of the late Kenyatta and denying young and old scholars access to the place defeats the purpose for which it is called a historical site."

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