Mzee Jomo Kenyatta once owned a pet that was chauffeured in a Mercedes and had its own driver, privileges that left many working at State House in wonder.
Unknown to many, the former president was not fond of keeping animals as pets. However, when his close friend, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie gifted him a white dog, he adopted an entirely different attitude.
According to biographer Jeremy Murray- Brown in his 1972 book, Kenyatta was initially angered by the gift adding that he would have preferred a cow.
Lee Njiru, who worked as Information Officer at State House, would later reveal that the president ordered a brand new luxury Mercedes Benz 280S to chauffer the dog whom he named Addis.
“Mzee had few bosom friends. One of them was the animal-loving Emperor Haile Selassie. The friendship was so deep that when he was gifted the white little dog during his visit to Ethiopia, he bought it a Mercedes Benz 280S.
“Addis had his own driver and normally sat back left whenever he accompanied Mzee during his long working tours around the country,” Njiru stated in an interview.
The president treasured the dog as it was a symbol of his friendship with the Emperor.
Their friendship spanned long before the two became Heads of State. While studying in London’s Quaker College in 1931, Kenyatta kept a red, green and gold Ethiopian flag in his room in England.
It is reported that Kenyatta was so fascinated with His Imperial Majesty and 33 years after his stay at 75 Castle Road in England, he ensured the Emperor was Kenya’s first foreign dignitary invited during the Jamhuri Day celebrations in June, 1964.
Additionally, during his 14-year rule, Kenyatta -who hated flying – made only one foreign trip and it was to Ethiopia in 1969.
When he arrived, Ethiopia’s military performed a special aerial drill in Kenyatta’s honour by spelling his name, Jomo, in the sky.