Kenya’s architecture and György Vámos

Nairobi is the most populous city in East Africa. Few would think that the capital of Kenya also has a Hungarian connection. Many of the city’s buildings were designed by a Hungarian architect György Vámos.

Among other things, the post office and the mausoleum of Jomo Kenyatta, one of Kenya’s most important historical figures, are works of the Hungarian architect. György Vámos was born in Budapest in 1910 and later he studied architecture in Vienna. His youth was full of difficulties.

At the beginning of the 20th century, he was among the European Jews whose lives were plagued by the notion of rising fascism. Like many at the time, he decided to flee and took a job in Iraq, where he worked for the British government.

He later joined the British Armed Forces. Because he was born in Hungary, he was not considered British, but an “alien”. As World War II progressed, he was interned with hundreds of other “aliens”; in Uganda, where he fell in love with the continent.

After he disarmed at the end of the war in 1946, he saw no point returning to Europe, where he had already loft most of his relatives under the Nazi Era before Europe was liberated. He settled in Nairobi and opened an architectural office with Heini Lustmann.