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How Mombasa’s iconic elephant tusks came to be built

The huge white artificial elephant tusks along Moi Avenue in Mombasa have been recognised as Mombasa’s top landmark.

Local and international tourists have taken pictures at this monument in the coastal city every time they are around. Many films across the city use the tusks as a symbol for the beautiful city.

Tourist taking a picture at the monument [Source: Bountiful Safaris]

When was this monument erected and why?

The iconic symbolic tusks were first erected in 1952 during Queen Elizabeth’s visit. She was staying at a Mombasa club and was later joined by her sister.

Mr Raphael Abdulmajid, the head of historical education at Fort Jesus, said the tusks were erected when the Queen went to the Mombasa port to pick up her sister where she was going to use the Moi Avenue street.

Abdulmajid says during the British colonial period, ivories were used to document culture and the two wooden-like tusks were put to mark the celebration of the visit of the queen as part of the tradition.

View at night. [Source: Trip advisor]

“But when the queen completed her stay in the city, the municipal council did not bother to remove them and by then, locals used to throng the place for leisure as they had become an attraction site,” he said.

The municipal council later decided to preserve the tusks after realizing that they had become an attraction. In 1956, the tusks were modified with aluminium materials which could endure harsh weather conditions.

The tusks were then put into two lanes which coincidentally formed the letter “M”, the first spelling for Mombasa.

In 2017, the county government in partnership with Mombasa Cement refurbished the tusks.

Recently, the landmark has acquired a new look with the addition of a model elephant at the centre of the tusks.

For filming purposes, the tusks are now charged under the protection of National Museums of Kenya (NMK).

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