The cursed blessing of Slum Tourism

The cursed blessing of Slum Tourism

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An aerial view of Kibera slums. PHOTO: COURTESY.

Nairobi, KENYA: Slums of Nairobi are infamously known for their high occurrences of violence, crippling poverty, high mortality rates among many other social evils in the society.

However, the sprawling slums of Kibera are receiving more foreign attention not from humanitarian donors, but a new crop of tourists tired of sleeping by the pool side and would rather see some real life.

This is a game changer since visitors are opting for unorthodox places to spend time with their loved ones or even some lone moments during holidays in the shanties.

Though it’s not their fault, slum dwellers are still far from a sustainable future; however they have tapped into this new booming tourism business termed as “poorism”.

This comes as no surprise as Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities named unemployment as one of the challenges Nairobi faces.

“Yes, I am a slum tourism operator. For every visitor I charge sh.500 which is an equivalent of $5. Tourists who visit Kibera say that people here live like animals. They love taking pictures of the pipes that leak raw sewage and the dilapidated houses,” Violet Muge told Baraka FM.

Beatrice Mutia another tour operator in Kibera, told Baraka FM that she was at first shocked when she was asked to take foreign visitors for a walk in the shanties.

Ms. Mutia who also charges sh.500 per visitor said that tourists were often fascinated with how poor people survived.

“Some want to know how the people eat over here. They want to know how many meals they can afford in a day. Some tourists have suggested that this place should be upgraded because the living conditions here are unbearable,” Ms. Mutia notes.

They both agreed that the tourists never brought in any development projects that would save the people living in shanties from the claws of poverty.