21-04-2023 by Freddie del Curatolo
In Kenya's coastal tourism sector, it is well known that "unity is strength" is a proverb that has never worked. Indeed, some consider it blasphemy. And the Italians in this self-defeating tradition have their fair share of complicity. Thanks to so many "padroncini fathers," to self-appointed and self-improvised managers who before landing in Malindi and Watamu were in a completely different profession, to munchkins in their own backyards who feel they are giants of hospitality, to the very willing and very naive and to the usual (fewer and fewer, at least that one) unwilling and unhonest, over the years there has never been any success in advancing common causes that elsewhere, and where other communities of foreigners prevail, have been successful.
Such is the case in Malindi, where the township, which is struggling to keep the sustainability of its growth at bay, has in recent years, in conjunction with two utterly deficient legislatures in county government, managed to achieve some results only thanks to local associations (see PWAM) and civil society. This is the case with the Casuarina landfill, for example, which, if it is soon to be relaunched elsewhere, will certainly not be thanks to the intervention of the Heavenly Father.
Where are the tourism entrepreneurs when there is also and above all their interests to be served, which cannot but be at the same time those of the locality in which their business is located?
Let's talk about the most recent and striking case: the exponential invasion of crows, the so-called "house crows." By now, every hotel has its own dragnet of these non-native birds (they arrived in Kenya in the last century on ships from the East) that do damage to the environment, disturb tourists and residents with their cawing, eat the eggs of the beautiful tropical birds and carry diseases, even feeding on garbage.
The example comes from Vipingo, a resort that, with only the attraction of a golf club and a few kilometers of beach that is not even overly publicized, is growing thanks to the unity of investors who have listened to the voice of those who care about nature and its conservation. Paying 10 Kenyan shillings per egg (8 cents), they have asked unemployed people and workers who want to "round up" in these difficult times to retrieve crow eggs and deliver them, to be destroyed. In just a few months since this initiative began, the population of the pesky birds has been reduced by at least half.
But in Vipingo there is unity of purpose, a desire to emerge that overcomes all divisions. In Malindi, certain wealthy countrymen look more and more like the same crows: ugly, dirty and cawing. And the flocks that fly at us and attack tourists' lunches are increasingly a metaphor for their disunity.
What do we have to wait for our whiny solons to also adopt a very simple, self-taxing similar program? Or will we continue to see a tourist destination sink on its own by waiting for the initiative of those who have never taken such? As that old gentleman who played the clarinet, but not to charm snakes, used to say, "meditate people, meditate."
by Freddie del Curatolo
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