Looking beyond its wildlife and nature’s endowments there is much poverty and destitution in Africa. James Asudi, general manager of Kenyan-based Victoria Safaris has come up with a novel idea to show case the same; Slum Tours.
Victoria Safaris’ manager Asudi, from the same Luo tribe which constitutes the majority of Kibera residents, insists the tour he offers of Kibera and other slums in Nairobi and Kisumu in West Kenya, are beneficial to locals. They raise awareness, and he hands his tourists back a percentage of their payment to donate to a cause they have seen on their walkabout, he says, such as a health or school project.
Reviews like this one are most humiliating:
Kibera is the rave spot in Kenya,” wrote one columnist sarcastically. “For where else can one see it all in one simple stop? The AIDS victims dying slowly on a cold, cardboard bed. The breastless teenager. … Plastic-eating goats fighting small children … and – ah yes – the famous ’shit-rolls-downhill-flying-toilets’. It is unbeatable
This tourism is a talking point for the rich who boast of having gone to the poorest part of Africa, while for the poor it remains an embarrassment of their backwardness, filth, misery and absolute deprivation. Though the tourism might bring in awareness, put pressure on the government and others to help slum-dwellers, all the same it is an intrusion into their lives which can be understood only when experienced.
Even groups working day in, day out in Kibera – and dependent on foreign funding – are getting weary. Salim Mohamed, project director for the Carolina for Kibera charity, says the stream of high-profile visits to the 3 km long corridor is raising expectations among residents which, when not quickly fulfilled, fuel frustration with the appalling living conditions.