Poverty tourism

I have had the chance of buying a sessional paper 10 at the Kenyan government printers which was based on African socialism of 1965 and it’s application in Kenya and it must have been the most worthy ten shillings I have spent in my life. As a woman who believes that women empowerment leads to development, I can’t stop reading such articles that bring light to the various social issues we face. Poverty tourism and generational poverty might be as a result of neglecting basic human rights but lack of girl child empowerment mentally is the real issue. Women who are seen as the backbone of the society, need basic education in Africa BUT these women need to first understand the basic rights of their children and their own rights as well.

Understanding the basic human rights, empowers them beyond the reading and writing world.

Armchair poverty tourism has been around as long as authors have written about class. As an author, I have struggled myself with the nuances of writing about poverty without reducing any community to a catalog of its difficulties.- Leslie Jamison.

Basically, being able to access knowledge expands our mind to the extent that we understand that human behaviour can never be quantified but it can be evident. Living with people especially Kenyans is hard since we hail and dwell in both an underdeveloped and undeveloped nation. I was in one of the largest slums in Kenya 2 days ago and people violate their own rights without a clue that they are doing it and this goes on generation after generation. Mothers violate their children’s rights bringing up a clueless and angry generation. Yet, these same people are expected to compete with the middle class empowered children for jobs, education opportunities and basically life.

It is sad that we have resources but they are being largely and actively used to develop short term projects. I’ll always avoid any political vendetta in my writings, it has it’s place. I’ll talk about sustainability instead. Sustainability is the one thing we have never invested in, as a continent . The saddest thing, I just found out the other year was the fact that Turkana has the largest underground water in the world and we lack the capacity to exploit it for our own development.

There was a period when the capitalist system increased the well-being of significant numbers of people as a by-product of seeking out profits for a few, but today the quests for profits comes into sharp conflict with people’s demands that their material and social needs should be fulfilled- Walter Rodney, How Europe underdeveloped Africa.

I fully acknowledge that Vision 2030 in Kenya aims at improving people’s incomes by making sure that they adopt to various policies but what happens if income won’t bring about positive change in society. Vision 2030 should also aim at improving our choices and freedom in relations to meeting our everyday livelihood as well. It will never matter if we get higher incomes yet we have a still attitude and behaviour.

Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size- Virginia Woolf.

As long as women are not fully considered as equals in relations to equity and not equality and given half of everything in a non literal sense, a third is just a percentage and that will never be planned change. You know what implies change in society? Well, of course people should be able to sustain themselves but freedom of choices should also be a key factor. Freedom of choices brings about respect and dignity in society. This often improves humanness. Kenya is far from that.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it- Thomas Jefferson.

From stripping women to an incident where a headmaster (male) stripped a girl for wearing short skirts, human rights are yet to be observed. You know why every diplomat or president from a developed nation really goes to our slums? They often feel the need to see first hand what poverty truly means. It’s a form of tourism that we may just call poverty tourism. I was in the slums the other day to simply learn about the other lifestyle. In a population of over 100,000 people, who have also been brainwashed by incentives by the western based NGOs supposed to help them psychologically, socially and economically, these residents will never accept any form of new development in their lives be it beneficial or not that doesn’t involve bribing or buying their attention. Gets me wondering, “why are there so many NGOs yet the living conditions are getting worse but the statistics are getting better in paper?”

In my opinion, foreign NGOs and Kenyan based projects are just improvements on paper until social rights and changes are addressed. After all, take a look at who owns the prestige estates in Africa and who dwells in them and ask yourself if Vision 2030 and NGOs really gives a load shit about externally and internally induced poverty. If they did, they would live it to understand it. At this point, poverty tourism is what ensues. Setting up NGOs to feel good and justify it. Turning humanity into a sport. Is poverty tourism an eye opener that maybe so far nothing is working and we need to change strategies?

End poverty tourism.


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