A Path Not Taken: The Story of Joseph Murumbi

This is the story of Africa’s private cultural collector and Kenya’s second Vice President.


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The book is largely made up of transcripts of recorded conversations between Joseph Murumbi and Dr Anne Thurston, a researcher and archivist from the UK who lived and worked in Kenya throughout the 1970s. She has since been awarded an OBE for her services to archive administration in Africa. The material gathered was intended for memoirs which were never written. However, it is to our lasting gain that in response to questioning, by turns pointed, by turns subtle, we hear Murumbi speaking to us across the intervening years. He comes across as a man who could have been abrasive on occasion but who, for all that, was capable of great candour and sincerity. He makes it clear that what he most admired in other human beings was a sense of decency: more than once in the conversations, he conveys his positive judgment of certain individuals with the words: ‘He was a man for whom we had great respect.’ Or, ‘He was a perfect gentleman.’ Or, ‘I have the greatest appreciation of the man.’ Or, ‘I still think that he was a good man.’