Controversy over Kibera’s emerging status as a ‘tourist attraction’
A lively debate has erupted on social media over the growing trend of tourists visiting Kibera, one of Nairobi’s largest slums.
What happens when curiosity turns into controversy? This conversation raises crucial questions about ethics, economic opportunity, and the portrayal of impoverished communities.
Kibera, known for being one of Africa’s largest urban slums, has recently drawn the attention of tourists, both Kenyan and international alike. However, this seemingly innocuous curiosity has ignited a fierce discussion about the ethics of such visits. Is Kibera’s emergence as a tourist destination an opportunity, a menace, or perhaps a mirror reflecting our own ethics?
Following the conversation on Reddit, a user who goes by a pseudonym posed a question to the online community highlighting the emergence of the growing trend asking whether it’s right for Kibera to be placed under the spotlight.
User u/Competitive_Fold3888, in a post titled “Kibera – A Tourist Attraction?”, expressed their disbelief and concern over the practice. They questioned the morality of tourists descending upon Kibera and capturing images of its residents, likening it to a visit to a zoo. The user’s sentiments resonated with many in the community who shared their thoughts on the matter.
One user, u/AfricanAgent47, pointed out that while some may frown upon this trend, there are individuals within Kibera who have turned it into a lucrative opportunity. They mentioned that there are community members making money from guiding tourists through the slum.
Another user, u/OldManMtu, brought up the example of Octopizzo, a rapper who once ran a Kibera touring company. Octopizzo’s venture highlights the economic potential that tourism can bring to the community.
However, not everyone sees these tours as inherently exploitative. Some users believe that, when done responsibly and with the right intentions, they can raise awareness of the challenges faced by Kibera’s residents and attract potential donors.
User u/Fast_Writer2002 raised an interesting point about certain NGOs contributing to the issue by taking photos of residents without their consent for fundraising purposes. This perspective suggests that it’s not just tourists who are guilty of this practice.
The debate also touched on the fact that it’s not just international tourists who are interested in visiting Kibera. Kenyan nationals, too, are curious to witness firsthand the reality of life in the slum.
Despite the differences in opinion, there is consensus that the motive behind visiting Kibera matters significantly. Many Kenyan tourists claim they visit out of genuine curiosity and empathy rather than to ridicule the slum’s residents.
User u/Expensive_Case5968 shared their own experience of visiting Kibera, highlighting the desire to witness the changes that have occurred in the community since the 90s.
The discussion concludes with a reflection on the portrayal of Africa in Western media, with user u/Loriatutu suggesting that slum photographs fulfill a certain narrative, depicting Africa as a hopeless, poor continent in need of aid.
Intriguingly, the online debate brings to light the complexities surrounding the issue of slum tourism. While some view it as an opportunity for economic growth and raising awareness, others are concerned about privacy, exploitation, and the perpetuation of stereotypes about impoverished communities.