At the junction of Kenyatta Avenue and Koinange Street lies a particularly odd “caged” monument… one of Nairobi’s oldest structures, yet one of the least known: This is the Galton-Fenzi Memorial also known as the Nairobi Milliary Stone.
The Stone was erected in 1939 in memory of the man who pioneered automobile routes across Kenya and East Africa, Lionel Douglas Galton-Fenzi
In 1919, Douglas Galton-Fenzi an automobile enthusiast and adventurer , founded East Africa’s first automobile association, the REAAA ( Royal East African Automobile Association). In 1923 he began negotiating for loan cars, so that he could test the cars under East African conditions. To this effect, he received several vehicles, among them a Riley 12/50 from the Riley Motor Car Co. Ltd. of Coventry.
A pioneer in his field and an ambitious one at that, The EA standard in 1924 had this to say about him,
“Galton Fenzi is always doing things, and he does them so quickly the public has no time to recover its breath!’. “
In January 1926, driving that very same 12/50 Riley, Fenzi became the ﬁrst person to drive a vehicle from Mombasa to Nairobi , a total distance of 300 miles. Later, he went on to pioneer the Nairobi – Dar es Salaam to Malawi route, and the Nairobi-Khartoum route.
Galton Fenzi remained Honorary Secretary of the Royal East Africa Automobile Association until his death on 15th May 1937, at the age of 56 . The memorial was erected in his memory in 1939. The point at which it is erected is said to have been the focal point from which all distances to and from Nairobi were measured.
Among the towns whose distances are inscribed on the monument include: Mombasa, Fort Hall , Nanyuki, Moyale, Juba, Khartoum, Cairo, Alexandria, Kajiado, Athi, Voi….. (among others)
Other inscriptions include : Dar es Salaam to Morogoro and Mombasa to Dar es Salaam
Galton Fenzi’s grave can be found at the St Paul’s Church in Kiambu
Today, the monument has been caged in a way that conceals its true splendor, making it nearly impossible to read the text inscribed on it. However, there remains much to be admired about its formidable structure and much too of the man after whom it was named.
In memory of Douglas Galton Fenzi 1881-1937
Correction: An earlier version of this article had listed Dar es Salaam to Morrocco as one of the inscriptions but the correct inscription reads Dar es Salaam to Morogoro