Just as billions of other people, the isango! team has paused work to follow Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration. Parades are still on as we write, and partying will go on all night. We all have heard a lot about President Obama’s background and his global footsteps, from Hawaii to Indonesia, Kenya and Chicago.
We happened to discuss about Obama’s roots with one of our suppliers in Kenya, and we discovered the local village of Kogelo is becoming a key travel destination. Not just now, but since Obama’s 2004 election to Senator of Illinois there seem to be a steady flow of visits to Obama’s family house. The Kogelo village is rumoured to be building a small airport to welcome tourists. Given Kenya is becoming a popular golf destination (in addition to the classic safaris and beach resorts), it’s likely that the village will thrive with more and more visitors.
Launching these tours has created a healthy ethical discussion that we wish to share on this post. It wasn’t an obvious decision, would it be a shameless use of politics to plug tours?
A couple of arguments convinced us this was a good thing to do. First, it is the local villagers in Kenya who organize and run these tours, and their economy can only benefit from an inflow of tourism revenues. (If anything, it cannot be less ethical than sending people to enrich already rich people in Las Vegas – and we’ve been doing this for a while…). Second, President Obama has really been to Kenya twice, precisely to discover the local culture and understand his family roots. Kenya has thus contributed to his view of the world, and if we can help more people understand, why not?
We welcome everyone’s comments and viewpoints in response to this post.
Note: travellers to Kenya are advised to consult the following Travel Warnings:
- US: Travel Warning for Kenya.
- UK: Travel Advice for Kenya.