Kenya Northern Frontier District Photos

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Moyale - Postscript to World War II

The photograph below was taken in 1951 in Moyale, and is located in the Kenya government (D.C.) administrative boma of Moyale ownship. Near the flagstaff is a marker stone dedicated to the Divisioni Lachi of the Italian army. At the top of the stone is the symbol of the Fascist government of Italy under Mussolini -- a sheaf of wood with an axe in it --a symbol very familar to those who served in Italy and North Africa during World War II.

In1935, Mussolini launched a vicious war against Ethiopia (Abyssinia). The Ethiopian army was destroyed and Emperior Haile Selassie fled into exile in May 1936. Addis Ababa (the Ethopian capital) was invaded on May 5, 1936, and the Ethiopian township of Moyale was occupied by the Lakes Division of the Italian army on June 29. This stone was placed in the grounds of the Italian Resident in Moyale to commemorates the arrival of the Lakes Division.

During World War II, the Italian forces invaded and occupied British Moyale in 1940, as well as other areas along the border between Kenya and Abyssinia. British-led forces liberated and re-occupied these areas in 1941. Evidently, the British troops took this marker stone (see below) from the Resident's Office on the Ethiopian (Italian) side of the border, and placed it in the grounds of the British D.C.'s compound in Moyale township on the Kenya side of the border.

Thanks for assistance and information to Sylvia Campi, Monty Brown, and Father Paul Tablino (a Catholic missionary in the NFD for the last 30 years who is an authority on the Gabbra).

MOIALE
29 GIUGNO
1936 XIV
DIVISIONE LAGHI

Mayale

Translation:
Moyale
29 June 1936
XIV (= 14th year of fascist era)
Lakes Division (of Italian army)

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Sergio Laghi

Born in Trieste, Ltu. (Lieutenant?) SERGIO LAGHI (1913-36) attended the Reserve Officer Course in Moncalieri, and was assigned to the 152nd Infantry Regiment (June 1934-January 1935). In March 1935, he was recalled and assigned to the RCTC (King's Corps of Colonial Troops). He disembarked at Massaua (Massawa, a Red Sea port) in Eritrea on April 23, and was assigned to the scout platoon of the 24th Eritrean Battalion.  He was awarded a Silver Military Valour medal for an action in Uarieu Pass in January 1936. He was seriously wounded in the Battle of Mai Ceu on March 31. 1936, and taken to the Hospital of the 1st Eritrean Division where he died the same evening.

In Italian, laghi means lakes. When translating the marker, it was assumed that this was the Lakes Division of the Italian army. Another possible explanation is that the Division was re-named for Sergio Laghi. The above information was provided by Mauro C. of the Forum-Militaria (Italy) and gives another possible explanation for the marker.

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Wajir, Garissa, and El Wak

wajir - 1950s

View of Wajir, in 1950s

Wajir - pillbox

World War II Gun turret, near Wajir

Wajir - another view from 1950s

Another view of Wajir

NFD fort, 1950s

Fort on the Somalia border, El Wak
Photographs by J. Gordon Mumford

Official visit made to the NFD by Sir Evelyn Baring, Governor of Kenya, in the 1950s. Photos above and right were taken at Garissa.

Governor's visit to Garissa

Governor on reviewing stand, Garissa

Sir Evelyn Baring

Governor greets local tribal leaders

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Buffalo Springs

Buffalo Springs

The army dynamited several pools in the 1940s. The NFD was restricted  and required an entry permit. When Gordon was working on safari in the NFD in 1959/51, the isolated spring was a favourite spot for him to visit on his return journey. In the late 1960s/1970s there were some self-help bandas and camp grounds along the nearby Uaso Nyiro River.

A family outing to Buffalo Springs in the 1960s was a rare treat.
(Photo from M. Primrose).

Samburu Game Lodge

The Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves were established to protect wildlife in the area. The Samburu Game Lodge was built in the 1970s to accommodate tourists. Signs warn visitors to "Beware of Crocodile," while on the other sideof the sign it reads "Crocodiles, Beware of Tourists".

For more NFD photographs, see the Kenya Police Association website.

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