MY PERSONAL CRITICAL REVIEW CONCERNING SLUM TOURISM IN KENYA
My perception concerning slum tourism in Kenya is that it is both controversial and worth clapping hands for. As local and foreign tourists come to flock in our famous slums, they interact with the slum dwellers in ways which a community may appreciate or oppose.
As a result of this, slum tourism has both advantages and disadvantages. For the advantages, visits by either tourists or foreign dignitaries have led to the creation of employment, discovery of young innovative minds and also alerting the well-wishers about the poor living conditions that the slum dwellers inhabit.
Through this kind of tourism, people have become employed and self-employed. As tourists are becoming more and more wary about the Maasai Safaris and wildlife tours, some Kenyans have innovated new ideas of sustaining and improving their living standards through managing and playing a role in slum tours.
Locals in the slum too have benefited from these programs, as they act as interpreters, tour guides and transporters. As a result of this, the relatives, spouses and families of the employees who are involved in slum tours benefit a lot financially; making them able to take children to school, buy medicine and also food.
Slum tourism has also contributed to discovery of young, talented individuals, who have contributed to economic growth of this country. For instance, if we take a look at the Nairobi slums, we’ll notice that several national sports and entertainment celebrities have been saved from the jaws of poverty by the international tourists, who act like their agents and sponsors.
Successful sports people like Congestina Acheing’ (edit), are some of lucky few who have succeeded in attaining their goals through sponsorship by foreigners. Seeing sports as a way of earning their living through being sponsored by foreigners, several young people have set up sports clubs which have assisted them in boosting their talents and skills, like in the case of soccer.
For entertainment, music, dance, and drama by slum dwellers (especially in the case of teenagers and youths), have all attracted the attention of tourists. This is as a result of the unique skills showing how they feel and think about how the rest of the society perceives them.
Taking the case of a musical group like Ukoo Fulani, its artistes have financially benefited and managed to show the world how people live in Kenyan cities and slums. Being a group that has widely traveled in Europe, it has managed to touch the hearts of the European population, making them have a sense of responsibility in economically assisting the poor population back in Kenya, especially in the dangerously expanding Kibera slum.
The last advantage of slum tourism is that it has alerted Kenyan citizens and the rest of the world of the poor living conditions that the slum dwellers inhabit. Visits to the slums like Kibera by foreign dignitaries, journalists and western celebrities, have led to the re-awakening of awareness about the poverty which is slowly eating away our growing economy.
By opening welcoming such visits, the government and groups set up by the Kenyan citizens themselves, have been forced to design and innovate ideas which can reduce the poverty scourge which can only be terminated with the efforts of the citizens themselves, and the government.
Though slum tourism has promoted tourism and the employment of some groups of people, it has also affected our country’s economy. By encouraging tourism in Kenya’s slums, the government’s positive economic dreams have been shattered by the mass of people living in a poverty line of below one dollar per day and also the spontaneous growth of slums, slum tourism has the following negativities.
First, it creates embarrassment to both the government and the entire nation. When international tourists and foreign dignitaries come to visit this country and come across Kibera or any other slum, they get a perception of a country which can’t properly look after its economic welfare or even taking human rights policies seriously.
As a result of this, investors, donors, industrial and educational volunteers are really discouraged from coming to Kenya, since they will see this country as a begging nation.
When tourists come to visit Kenyan slums, they degrade the ego and culture of the locals, making them feel as though they can’t look after themselves, in terms of finances and health services.
Instead of making visits which satisfy the eyes only, foreign dignitaries and other groups of bodies can do a mere enlightening task by making visits which will bring more imaginations, innovations and even skills, which will financially help the locals.
This can be done through free training programs by volunteers and non-governmental organizations in occupations like carpentry, electrical engineering, metal work, plumbing, and even art & design. With such professions, the locals can be able to look after their families’ welfare and themselves in areas like health bills and proper medications, education for the children, good shelter, food and clothing.
It is only by doing these things that the national and international bodies can achieve the goals of having an educated, healthy, economically independent, secure and happy population.
Aids scourge, robbery and poor sanitation, are some of the key factors that have led to the slow economic uplift of Kenyan slums, especially for Kibera. Donor and other generous groups have come from as far as Australia and the United States to offer free medication and create sewage projects which have almost been entirely dissolved by increasing number of people day by day, and the alarming increase in poverty which keeps on spiraling into outer space and deafening the ears of our leaders.
Secondly, Kibera being famous slum to visit in Africa, creates a negative attitude amongst some groups in the Kenyan population (including even some foreigners), by making them feel more privileged than poor populace.