10-07-2019 by redazione
Mombasa is certainly the oldest city in Kenya and one of the historic ports of East Africa. The other ports mentioned in the tenth century AD by the first navigators, are now ruins of cities (such as Kilwa in Tanzania or Sofala in Mozambique) or have remained minor settlements.
Like any city that has centuries of history, Mombasa has its symbols: the most famous is undoubtedly Fort Jesus, the fortress built by the Portuguese and repeatedly attacked and passed from hand to hand, during more than a hundred years of wars between Lusitans and Arabs.
The iconographic symbol of Mombasa, however, has no deep roots in the history of the city-island, but its origins are relatively recent, dating back to 1952.
These are the famous aluminium tusks that overlook the central artery of the city: four elephant tusks with a white colour reminiscent of ivory, positioned to cross and compose as many arches in the two lanes of Moi Avenue (once Kilindini Road).
The two iconic fangs (Mapembe ya Ndovu) were erected in honour of Queen Elizabeth's visit to the city, who stayed at the Mombasa Yachting Club.
Originally the tusks were made of wood and were erected precisely because it was known that the British Sovereign would pass from that road to go from the airport of Mombasa to the residence on the sea. The idea was to remove them when the queen would return home, but given the proximity of the Uhuru Park, a place of recreation for citizens, the fangs became almost an attraction.
Not only that: many travel agencies and merchants began to associate their activities to the two tusks, as a symbol of Mombasa, rather than using Fort Jesus, the swahili historiated gates, the dhows or some Portuguese or Indian palace of the old city.
So it was that in 1956 the Municipality decided to rebuild them even more imposing, using aluminum that would have more easily resisted the heat and rain.
So much so that, with some seasonal painting, the fangs are still there to camp in the heart of the city and today, in addition to catalogs for travelers, stamps and digital images, welcome the selfies of tourists from around the world and remember that Kenya is the country of wildlife and savannah, which is just over a hundred kilometers from Mombasa itself.
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