Let me be the modern David Livingstone, Ludwig Kraft and Johan Speke
I have always had a passion for tourism and adventure. I even helped set up a volunteer agency that involved travel to remote areas (2005-2007). However, during my volunteer days, I realized that the original source of all donations came from people engaged in gainful economic activities. This meant that all foundations that give to the N.G.Os were started by business men who engaged in gainful economic activities e.g Ford foundation, Rockefeller foundations etc. Also governments which engage in social benefit programs like heath and education got their funds from taxes which arise from people doing business and other economic activities
This made me realize that if you really want to address the issue of poverty and other social issues, you must empower the people to engage in gainful economic activities. Gainful economic activities will reduce the dependency syndrome on aid by creating a self sustaining, long lasting and final solution to their social problems. Once the businesses grow, they will be able to create employment, increase living standards of the locality in the areas that they operate in and hence make healthcare provision and education amongst other social issues more affordable
Armed with this knowledge, I left the N.G.O sector (2008) and vowed to create socio-economic ventures to support local communities. One of the economic ventures ideas was to develop local tourism attractions which would later grow into community owned sanctuaries and provide a source of income for the community hence address social issues like poverty, etc. I began touring remote areas and encouraging volunteers of my former N.G.O to visit localized tourist attractions over the weekends near their host ‘homestay’ homes. However, 2008 was a rough year for Kenya due to the post election violence and I was soon broke and made little impact.
A second reason why I got broke is because am a social entrepreneur. My model has been to inspire, support and equip individuals, business and organizations set up, expand and grow then advocate for the adoption of social values to support others in turn. Once the organization is stable, I leave the ‘project’ and move on to a new area of economic/social development that has a greater multiplier effect and socio-economic benefit to the country at large. Having left the N.G.O sector in 2008(with little savings and support since the “help others” concept did not catch on) to start a new venture during the post election violence increased my inability to fund my own expenses due to minimal economic activity let alone fund the development of unexploited tourism sites
In 2009, while working for a local media house, I made a second attempt; I thought, if I could create publicity for the unexplored, unexploited tourism sites then those sites will grow. I soon realized that my article had little ‘news worthy’ value and could only run as a sponsored article or supplement supported by advertisers. I remember speaking to many private tourism entities and the government about the idea but it seemed to attract little attention since most Kenyan tourism ventures which are targeted towards foreign tourists who are perceived to be only interested in high class establishments that offer comfort which are already located by the beach or various wildlife sanctuaries. The general attitude was “We are already making money. Why invest in a project to build unknown sites which we have personally never heard of in places with littler infrastructure? That’s too much work and especially since we think that no one would be interested in those sites”.
This been my second attempt to build unexplored, unexploited tourist attractions I got depressed decided well there is nothing more that I can do. However, I had no peace of mind since those unexplored, unexploited sites were real beauties that I wanted to share with everyone. Secondly, I could see the potential for them to generate incomes for investors and locals alike, to create new towns and alleviate poverty and other social issues.
Most importantly, I remember Tsunza Island less than 15km from Mombasa town by sea. A very beautiful area with enormous tourism potential yet without electricity, adequate food supplies, education and health due to its ‘remote’ location. The people of Tsunza personally asked me to support their economic growth and get them out of poverty.
I definitely had to do something but 3 yrs down the line, I had still made no inroads. Their cry representing other similar places in east Africa was deeply rooted in my being. I had and have no choice but to soldier on.
So in December 2012, I made this resolve; since am passionate about developing unexplored and unexploited tourism attractions, I will do what I can and leave the rest to God and I started visiting various unexplored tourist attractions all over Kenya.
2 weeks later…. Usually before every visit, I would befriend people from the said locality and then ask them if they knew of a place worth visiting in their town. Most would tell me there was none of importance. I would then visit the town and share the photos with them of a place I visited while in the town. I would also speak to motor cycle riders, hotel attendants, restaurants etc in the town creating a lot of excitement about the newly ‘discovered’ tourist attraction. In the course of the following two weeks, I would then receive inquiries of locals also wanting to visit the place and hear a lot of chatter about the place on social media with a few exploratory visits and future plans to visit the place.
2 years later…. Once example of such a place is the Mbui Njeru falls in Embu county, Kenya which I visited in Dec 2012. Most of my friends referred me to Mt Kenya stating Embu had nothing interesting. After visiting the place, people started visiting the place and referring other friends. Later, the place was abuzz on social media and the Embu County government started publicizing the place through its official communications. My there was done and am sure the area residents will benefit from it. But how am I sure?
7 years later…. Well the second place I wish to mention is Chepkiit Falls in Eldoret, Kenya. In 2007, I researched on places of interest in Eldoret and found none except the Kerio Valley which was far from the town. I even called the tourism development officer and he said there was no place of relevance through he said in passing that he had heard of a place in Mlango area near the airport. I then visited Eldoret followed his minimal lead. After asking around for directions, even at the trading centre near the falls and with no one seemingly knowing the place, I decided to follow a small boy taking cattle to drink water, I figured that he must be taking the cows to the river and then I will follow the river until I find the falls. Well, after jumping a few fences and following a few trails I was not disappointed and I found the falls. I posted the photo online and organized for a group of volunteers to visit the place. In 2013, I got to visit the place again and now the place has a gate entrance of USD 1 which goes to fund a local community group. The place has roads leading to the place with pinic sites and students, Asians, tourists visiting the site. On my visit, I was lucky to meet one of the site developers who was shooting a music video on location. After a 3 hour tour he mentioned that there are plans to build a hotel…. Imagine the employment opportunities for the people and other multiplier incomes caused by the presence of the hotel…. Well will it be possible?
100years later… my most memorable trip was my tour of Lake Victoria, the unifying factor behind the East African community. I just wanted to see this Lake that’s making 5 countries to join up and see the source of the river Nile. While at Mwanza, a town located on the Tanzanian side of the lake, I saw this plaque at a roundabout in the town and this is what it said
This is the point where John Hanning Speke discovered that Lake Victoria was the source of the river Nile”
The roundabout generally looked discarded and no one really took an interest at the monument but for me, it was a Eureka moment. I sat at the roundabout for 2 hrs thinking about the significance of the plaque.
I presume that Speke didn’t make one trip to realize that the lake was the source of the Nile… I presume he first stopped over at Egypt and marveled at this great river that was the source of the great Egyptian civilization. He then made a second trip south into the East African coast say around Ethiopia with the simple reasoning that if he saw a huge river cutting across his westward march into the interior, then it must be the Nile and sure, he found the huge river still traveling southward.
Broke, I imagine, he decided to go back to England and fundraise and after working, begging and using all means possible, he made his third trip this time further south say around Mozambique using the same principle. He march westwards into the interior enduring fatigue, disease and hostility just to find the source of the Nile… and did not find the huge river cutting through and realized it must have ended somewhere northwards. On his fourth trip, he finds Lake Victoria and even realizes that the source of the river is not a forest or mountain but a lake.
Later other Europeans decided to be like him and see this source of the Nile, being rich and without much endurance, they had to make stopovers to rest so they travelled in caravans. The caravan chose to start off at Mombasa so as to get enough supplies along the way. They probably made a stopover at say Mtito Andei, another at Makindu another at Nairobi another at Nakuru and finally at Kisumu. Later, the colonist decided to build a railway at those stop over points and the rest is history…because of the act of Speke discovering the source of the Nile, today we have present day towns in Kenya and East Africa, increased development and reduced poverty in general.
Because of Speke I can even use the internet to make this appeal to follow in his footsteps 100yrs later. Imagine the impact if I get to visit 100 places, 100 years later”
What your funding will do
Each trip costs approximately USD 200 all costs included within Kenya. My intention is to be able to visit 20 locations and take photos of the locations and post them on all relevant media, inspire locals to conserve and develop the area, inspire Kenyans to visit the places hence spur domestic tourism. I guess the site will propel itself to grow with or without my involvement since I will have played my part.
Since 2012, I have already visited over 10 locations in Kenya and have started the process.https://www.facebook.com/groups/333082556775611/ Each trip is independent of the other trips meaning that even small donations will go a long way in fulfilling at least one trip So give what you have.
With overfunding I will be able to explore additional sites all over east Africa and Africa, I will then be able to move this project to phase two in which includes revisiting the sites and encouraging government officials, tourism stakeholders etc to visit the sites as well. In the following phases, I would also be able to build the capacities of the locals to be able to harness the tourist potential in partnership with all other relevant stakeholders up to the point where those areas shall generate income for the locals. However, the journey of 100 miles starts with one step and Rome was not built in a day… I will cross that bridge when I reach it.
So feel free to tell your friends and other people about the project. You can join the facebook group East Africa unexplored, unexploited https://www.facebook.com/groups/333082556775611/
For more information I can be reached on Tel +254 720 654 543 or email me at [email protected] you can also follow me on my projects and work by sending a friend request to https://www.facebook.com/nguru.magu