Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Poverty Tourism: the new African zoo...

Have a look at this:


Kibera, the friendliest slum in the world and a city of hope


(Click on the picture to take you to the site)



There must be a politician behind this. The donor tap is drying up so you have to find another way to milk those poor bastards. If it ain't a politician, then what kind of sicko thinks we should be selling people living in shit?

Would be curious to hear what others think...

8 comments:

Kenya Safari said...

Kenyans are truly friendly people. Even the poor people in Kibera will gladly assist you should you ask for assistance. Many people on safari have said this.

Richard Trillo said...

Like Victoria Safaris (http://www.victoriasafaris.com/kenyatours/propoor.htm), this company needs to be very clear about where the money is going and how it's being used in the community. If there's 100% transparency, no extra "tips", private "donations" etc, then I can't see the problem. Do you want to *stop* people visiting Kibera?

Richard

sokari said...

Richard @To be frank yes. Why should Euros want to travel half the world to go and stare at people living in the most horrendous conditions. Its vile!

Richard Trillo said...

Sokari, I think you're out of touch with the way people in Kibera are thinking. They don't want to live in some rejected ghetto, they want Kibera to be an integrated part of Nairobi. Part of that process is to get tourists (what's this "Euros" talk? – *all* tourists) who are already in Kenya to visit Kibera. Nobody is suggesting the average tourist would do a special trip *just* to Kibera from the US, South Africa, Thailand or wherever. This process has happened all over the world - tourists visited deprived parts of New York and London's East End in the 1980s, Soweto in the 1990s. My problem is with any company operating supposedly "pro-poor" visits to Kibera that isn't crystal-clear-transparent about where the money is going.

Susan Zakin said...

Look, it's a double-edged thing. Do you visit Kenya and only see "sanitized" Kenya -- expensive hotels and game parks? (The whole subject of obscenely expensive tourism in Kenya is worth debate, too, don't you think?) Or do you try to get a cross-section of how life is lived, by people as well as animals (oh, yeah, and the Masai) and perhaps gain some understanding of the country as a whole? I think we always have to err on the side of the free flow of information, even if there are moral ambiguities involved in how the flow is achieved. Yes, of course, the company should be transparent and free of corruption -- just like the rest of Kenya. In the meantime, better for people to learn than to remain ignorant.

Susan Zakin said...

P.S. And that goes for the people of Kibera as well as those horrible Europeans who might actually want to take the time to understand global inequality, even though they don't have to.

otherguysdime said...

When I was working in Kenya my wife and I were invited to join a volunteer for the Missionaries of Charity as he made his rounds in Kibera. (I describe this experience in my blog post "Father George, Poverty Tourism, and the Slums of Kibera." We were there by invitation of people who worked and lived in Kibera, but in my opinion that is really the only way you should be there--as a volunteer, as a helper, or as someone providing professional services. To go as a tourist seems totally inappropriate. There is not much to be learned by snapping photos from a tour bus window!

Richard Trillo said...

Otherguysdime: while your commitment is laudable and should be emulated as much as possible, surely it's a good thing that ordinary tourists are given exposure to local conditions and the opportunity to make a visit and be affected by what they experience? Kibera is not some ghetto that visitors to Kenya should shun. The issue is not with visiting per se, but with the local, Nairobi-based operators (all small, as far as I know) who offer guided walks, but who, to my knowledge do so as part of their other profit-making tour programmes and, while claiming to leave some benefits with Kibera residents, are less than transparent about that. The ideal solution would surely be some Kibera-based startups bringing visitors into the neighbourhood, where some of their welcome foreign currency could be spent in Kibera's snackbars and shops. If they came, more Kibera businesses would emerge and more Kibera capital (what there is of it. . .) would stay in Kibera to develop the community.

Just a thought.

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