The chosen setting for celebrating of the Kenyan National Day this year was the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv. Many of the elegant ladies wore costumes reflecting Kenyan national pride, showcasing the sophistication of the guests who included many Ambassadors and diplomats, military attaches, Israeli army VIPS and other important Kenyan and Israeli socialites and captains of industry and commerce.
His Excellency Ambassador Lt. Gen. Augostino S.K. Njoroge and his gracious wife Mrs. Margaret Njoroge welcomed their guests. The flower decorations in front of the stage were breathtaking, both in their profusion and in their beauty. Scenes from Kenya, spotlighting African wildlife flashed on the large screens, adding to the atmosphere. Guests were treated to a princely cocktail reception, followed by an excellent dinner, where the waiters added to the grace of the evening in their dress suits – bowties and all. Among the VIP guests were ambassadors and diplomatic staff in Israel, including Ambassador António dos Santos of Angola, Ambassador Sisa Ngombane of South Africa, Mr. Nuriel Kasbian, honorary consul of Tanzania, Colonel Nigel Jefferson, British Defense & Military Attaché, Prof. Aubrey Soskolne and his wife Prof. Varda Soskolne, of the Hebrew University and Bar-Ilan University respectively, Mr. Ari Shomer and many others.
A group of young Kenyan schoolchildren studying in Israel and dressed in the national colors of their country sang the national anthems of Kenya and Israel. The Kenyan Ambassador to the State of Israel then addressed the assembled guests. The theme of the address was: "Kenya attaches great importance to the bilateral relations between the two countries". He spoke of the various spheres of mutual cooperation between the two countries, mentioning too that last year Kenya celebrated its 50 jubilee year of independence. Kenya, he added, views Israel as a model state, from which much can be gained in the fields of technology, agriculture, health, education and start-up innovations. Although for many years El Al Israel Airlines offered regular and frequent air service to Nairobi, that service was suspended a few years ago. Now, the Ambassador revealed, Kenya Airways will shortly inaugurate new direct flights between the Kenyan capital and Tel Aviv. The Ambassador also spoke of Kenya's serious terrorist attacks over the past two years and that the country is committed to the war on terrorism which he accurately described as a "global threat". The address ended with best wishes to the guests for Chanukah, Christmas and a prosperous 2015.
Yitzhak Aharonovich, Israel's Internal Security Minister, responded on behalf of Israel. "Kenya is an important strategic partner for Israel and the two countries benefit significantly from our cooperation on [various] matters." An invitation was extended to President Ohuru Kenyatta to visit Israel in 2015. Israel and Kenya enjoy excellent bilateral diplomatic and commercial relations and the Minister warmly welcomed the news that Kenya Airways would soon be introducing air links between the two countries. He too mentioned the recent terror attacks suffered in Kenya, and extended sympathy to the nation on the loss of life and injury to persons. In conclusion Minister Aharonovich asked the ambassador to extend the very best wishes from the State of Israel to the President and the people of the Republic of Kenya on this milestone.
A beautiful cake decorated with the flag of Kenya was then jointly sliced by the two main speakers, to the delight and applause of the assembled guests. Old friendships, and new ones, made the evening a grand success for everyone.
Kenya and Israel – l'chaim.
Photo by Sima Lahat