By Nairobian Reporter
There are only three avenues in Kenya’s capital: Kenyatta, Moi and Haile Selassie Avenues in honour of our first and second Presidents…and Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I.
The reason Nairobi has an avenue named – not after a local freedom fighter – but a foreigner is not accidental.
First President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was a very good friend of the Emperor. According to biographer Jeremy Murray-Brown in his 1972 effort, Kenyatta: A biography, the founding father kept the red, green and gold Ethiopian flag in his room at 75 Castle Road in 1931 England -a year after Haile Selassie was crowned Emperor having resisted colonization by Fascist Italy.
Lion of the Tribe of Judah
kenyatta was then studying in London’s Quaker College in Woodbroke.
He was so broke he toyed with the idea of being a musician, writes Murray-Brown Haile Selassie means ‘power of the trinity’. Actually, his full name is ‘His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Kings of Ethiopia, Elect of God,’ a title so often used by Rastafarians – a religion derived from Haile Selassie’s birth names, Ras Tafari (Makonnen).
Kenyatta was so fascinated with His Imperial Majesty 33 years after his stay at 75 Castle Road, he ensured the Emperor was Kenya’s first foreign dignitary invited during the Jamhuri Day celebrations in June, 1964. William Tubman, President of Liberia – the only other African country that escaped colonialism – was docked in Mombasa, at the time awaiting audience.
nguno, the cow instead
Kenyatta instructed that Tubman stay under “ship arrest”…until the Emperor’s state visit was over! Funny thing is, Haile Selassie’s gifted Kenyatta a white pet dog. But alas! good old Jomo hated pets, and would have preferred nguno, the cow instead.
By the way, Kenyatta made only two foreign trips in his 15-year presidency: one to England during a Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference – where he was roughed up in the streets by John Tyndall, the former secretary of the British National Socialist Party, in July 1964. His last visit was to Ethiopia where fighter jets formed the name ‘JOMO’ on the sky in 1969!