When the Americans defeated Ghana in a World Cup match the other day some of them could not resist gloating about it. Delta Airlines went ahead a tweeted a picture of the statue of liberty to depict USA and another picture of a giraffe to represent Ghana.
The tweet was later deleted to curb the backlash the airline was getting for stereotyping Ghana which as it turns out does not even have giraffes. Actually the picture they had used of the giraffe was one taken somewhere in Kenya not Ghana.
As it turns out, Delta Airlines is not the only airline having perception troubles lately. The region’s giant, Kenya Airways seems to have sparked some kind of a storm in Tanzania as regards to Mt. Kilimanjaro. A Tanzanian MP, Anne Kilango-Malecela has demanded that her government issue a statement over an advertisement by Kenya Airways, which according to her, misleads tourists that the mountain is in Kenya.
I found this story quite interesting especially since I do agree with Tanzania’s Attorney general Frederick Werema who pointed out that there was nothing wrong that the airline had done by putting a picture of the mountain on a plane because Tanzania did not patent the mountain.
In short, the mountain is in Tanzania and belongs there or specifically to the Chagga but the name and the picture can be borrowed and used by anybody else. And this reminds me of the day I was in Nairobi and saw this new red bus with the word Kampala Coach on its side. I made an effort to look at the registration plates of the bus and to my shock it had Kenyan plates.
The whole incident took time to register in my head. I wondered why a Kenyan business person would name his bus fleet after Kampala. Thinking about it brought me to the realisation that there are also some private schools in Kampala that have taken on names like Manchester or Cambridge. At the end of the day, it remains just a name.
Onto more serious things, the news that the East African Court of Justice had ruled against Tanzania’s desire to construct a highway through Serengeti should be music to tourism fans worldwide. The plans for the highway were seen by many as an interruption to the Serengeti migration routes used by herds of wildebeest and zebras.
The Tanzanian government can still have a gravel road but not a bitumen one as per the court’s ruling something that conservationists are also against. The compromise is a southern route that is a little longer than the one that the government had in mind.
In a similar development, a British oil company also recently agreed to end its controversial oil exploration operations in Virunga National Park. Environmentalists had warned of devastating consequences if the drilling proceeded. SOCO International Plc reached an agreement with the conservation group WWF to end exploratory work in DRC’s Virunga Park that like Serengeti is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
I wish there was some good news too regarding the recent spate of elephant killings especially in Kenya. It makes no sense to look on as elephants continue to be killed and yet we expect tourists to be coming to East Africa to see the same.
We may be struggling with terrorism which has affected tourism in the region but we should at least address the poaching issue much more strongly. Failure to do so will just kill the industry much faster.
I actually think that poachers should be treated the same way as we treat terrorists. They are not petty criminals after all. Someone who sets out to kill an elephant will not hesitate to kill a game ranger or anyone else who stands in their way.
And lastly about terrorism, I wish to express my condolences to the families that lost members in the recent Mpeketoni attacks in Lamu, Kenya. It appears the terrorists are now using the World Cup season to carry out their attacks. Nigeria has been attacked in this time and the memories of the deadly attack at Lugogo in Uganda in 2010 are still very fresh.
The terrorists bank on the fact that not everyone owns a TV set to watch the games from home and also the love many have for catching the games in crowded venues with friends. Vigilance at this time is therefore a must. We all have a role to play in stopping the bad guys.