Friday, February 09, 2007

The ick tourism chic

There's something rather disgusting about running tours to Nairobi's Kibera slum, but that's become a tourist destination for many visits to Kenya. Essentially, the wealthy tourists go to gawk at the impoverished Kenyans wallowing amongst filth and living in shacks as if the Kibera residents were part of a zoo exhibit. Other aspects of Kibera life -- community, culture, the middle class former Kibera residents who come back to live within the area -- tend to go unnoticed.

Unintended irony of some tourists -- attendees of the anti-capitalist World Social Forum traipsing to Kibera to view the conditions. Contrary to their thought process, Kibera is NOT exhibit A against capitalism, it's a monument to the equality of misery inflicted by socialism. From Jomo Kenyatta to Daniel Arap Moi, Kenya suffered through 38 years of the typical post-colonial mess of socialist policies combined with strong-man politics, and even with a semi-reformist President now, the country still has corruption levels that would make Sicily look clean.

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