“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet.” –Out of Africa (1985)
THE WORDS FROM THE BOOK and the scenes from Sydney Pollack’s 1985 Oscar-winning movie run through my head, as I arrive in the the fashionable Karen area of Nairobi to visit an old house steeped with stories of a baroness. The Karen Blixen Museum, that was spurred by the success of the cinematic adaptation of the book, is set inside Blixen’s old home—a grey fieldstone farmhouse at the foot of the Ngong Hills, and built by a Swedish engineer in 1912. It was later presented to the Kenyan government by Denmark in 1963. Beautifully placed, the stone-walled red roof manor with imposing gables is set on sprawling grounds that have indigenous and exotic trees, and a huge garden which is said to be one of the oldest in Kenya.
It takes about 30 minutes by car to reach this well-to-do, leafy suburb from the bustling citycentre, and on the way here, I am warned by my guide to not ‘expect to see the raw Africa described in the movie and book.’ True to its word, it has been replaced by huge grill gates with elaborate security systems; this evidently, is where the elite live now.