Page last updated at 16:22 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Call to save Kenyan poet's home

Khadambi Asalache's house. Copyright David Clarke
The fretwork was meant to keep the damp out

At least 2m in donations are required to save the London home of a Kenyan poet which features intricate wooden carvings, the National Trust has said.

Khadambi Asalache, who was also a writer and artist, donated his house in Lambeth, south London, to the trust before he died in May 2006.

He spent 20 years transforming his home with fretwork carvings from African, Islamic and British art and design.

The trust said if funds were not raised it could not accept Mr Asalache's gift.

The poet, who also studied architecture in Nairobi, moved to London in 1960 and became a civil servant.

He was renowned for his literary works in the Kenyan community.

'Multicultural heritage'

Beginning in the 1980s, he began transforming his Georgian terrace home on Wandsworth Road with fretwork carved from pine.

His work began as a measure to counter damp.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, the trust's director-general, said: "His house is a truly special place which celebrates diversity and through this we are presented with an important opportunity to develop our understanding of contemporary British culture."

Khadambi Asalache's house. Copyright David Clarke
The woodwork has elements of African, Islamic and British design

The property, which the trust said is a "nationally important example of multicultural heritage", also houses the poet's collection of 19th Century English lustreware pottery.

Elsie Owusu, the founder of the Society of Black Architects, said: "It could be described as an embodiment of the social, political and artistic history of the British colonial experience in the 20th Century."

Ian Wilson, the trust's area manager for London, also urged the Kenyan High Commission to contribute funds.

The National Trust has already committed 1m for the house's upkeep but needs at least 2m more to keep the property.

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