Kenya et tourisme vert

Par MAUD ERNY ISMAAILI, publié le jeudi 22 avril 2021 19:18 - Mis à jour le jeudi 22 avril 2021 19:18
Les élèves de seconde ont rédigé collectivement un article sur le Kenya et le tourisme vert, suite à un projet de cours en anglais, et ont pu interviewer Betsy, notre assistante originaire du Kenya.


In March 2021, Betsy came in our groups of secondes during English classes for an hour, to talk about her native country : Kenya.

In the first place, she introduced herself as an English assistant in the Louis Pasteur high school. She was in Strasbourg from October 2020 to April 2021. She was born in Bungoma on the western side of Kenya and has 7 siblings ; two brothers and five sisters, and her stay in France this year was her first ever.

In class, we had studied the topic of eco-tourism and in our textbooks, we had read about Kenya as a good example of a “green destination”. After a few questions we asked her what language people speak in Kenya and she answered English and Swahili are the most spoken languages there, but there are also 42 other ethnic languages. In her native land, she was raised speaking Luhya (her mother and grandmother speak this language) but in her everyday life, she mostly speaks Swahili, English and French.

The countries which surround Kenya are Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Sudan and Egypt. They are a “brotherhood of countries”, the East African Community, so their relationship is very close. They use the same currency in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya (all three use Shillings). They also have common languages: Swahili and English.

Kenya is an emerging country and eco-tourism constitutes a large part of its development. Betsy had prepared a slideshow about the most famous places to visit in Kenya and she showed it to us. We had also prepared a lot of questions about green travel, since we had studied the topic in class before she came.

It was really interesting that we talked about her country as a touristic destination: she said that it’s a ‘cheap’ country for European tourists because one euro is like 128 shillings ( the currency of the Kenya). She told us that a plane ticket with AirFrance is around 500 euros for a round-trip from Nairobi to Paris, so it is a rather expensive destination. But once there, with euros, French people often have an important purchasing power. To compare both economies, we talked about different professions and how much they earn in a month, like a doctor (who earns an average of 450000 shillings per month, a primary teacher 28200 shillings, a highschool teacher earns 50110 shillings,  while university or college lecturers get 110000 shillings every month. To become a teacher you have to do 4 years of studying, 7 years to be a doctor).

She said that Kenya is a developing country but the situation is not so bad economically. For example, the hospitals take care of pregnancy and birth for pregnant women, and healthcare is completely free in that case. The state also pays for Kenyan students’ books and school fees, some school trips are sponsored by the government for good students, to motivate them, and even now, the government is still helping the students in the difficult times of COVID. We also asked her about social issues, and she explained for instance that In Kenya, women are present in politics. They can occupy positions of power in the government, and are considered equal to men in front of the law. They are also protected by the justice system in case of violence or mistreatment.

She also told us about the school system, which is based on an “8-4-4” system (8 years of primary schooling, followed by 4 years of high school and 4 years of university or college, plus a specialization if needed). At school ,students study basic subjects like English and math, but also geography, Kenyan customs and religion. The two most practiced religions in Kenya are Christianity and Islam.

Then, we mainly spoke about the most visited places in Kenya. Her country really looks like a dream holiday destination! She talked about the giraffe center and the Nairobi national park, Mount Kenya which is the second highest mountain in Africa, Mombasa where we can cool down, sunbathe lying in the white sand, go diving, go swimming etc. Mombasa is a famous beach in Kenya where you can ride a horse or also a camel, you can dive. All these were part of the eco-friendly activities that we had spoken about in class because they are not polluting and they do not have too much of a carbon footprint.

She also advised the Maasai Mara Lodge, which is a very green place where you can take walks and talk with the local communities: the Maasai. Indeed the Maasai Warriors are the tour guides there, so they can tell the tourists the stories and traditions of their community.  This is specifically the place where you can find their jewelry, and learn about their history. The Maasai are the biggest ethnic group in Kenya, and people all know about Maasai jewels, made with very small beads (Betsy was wearing bracelets and hair ornaments to show us examples)

In terms of more urban visits, we talked about KICC tower, in the city of Nairobi, because it reaches a height of just over 105 meters, so when you are on the top you can see all the city, what is also the capital of the Kenya. She then quoted Tom Mboya statue because it is a very important symbol of the time when Kenyans were fighting for the independence and it is also erected in the capital, her city of Nairobi. There, there is the famous Uhuru monument,, it is a white obelisk with a replica of the Uhuru Torch mounted at its top.

Further away in the countryside, there’s Hell’s Gate as well, for people who enjoy hikes in dramatic landscapes. It is a national park located in the south of Lake Naivasha in Kenya and 90 km northeast of Nairobi, and you can walk in narrow canyons there.

But one of the main reasons why people travel to Kenya is the wildlife: animals that tourists like to see the most are elephants, lions, zebras hippopotamus, giraffes, crocodiles, tigers. The most endangered species is the white rhino. A few years ago there were only two of them left, so they had to be taken to an animal conservancy to be protected. Then there is also a special sort of giraffe that was found only on an island. It was also transported to the giraffe center to be protected. On the other hand, there are monkeys that you can see just on the side of the road.

Kenyans protect their wildlife against hunting (poaching) thanks to security officers: game wardens. There are also CCTV cameras, installed in various places in the parks (conservancy parks) and an electric fences around the parks (but these are dangerous for the wildlife) and finally security helicopters.

We asked Betsy if she had gone to a safari herself. She said she did, three times in primary school and then also during high school, when she was at school. Indeed, in Kenya, when you have good grades, you are taken to safari trips as a reward for your good work.

The weather in Kenya is very different from the one in France, it is very hot, and tropical, and the best season to travel there, although it is warm and nice year-round, is September and December. That is when people have long vacation there, and it is also the migrating season for many animals, which is convenient if you want to admire them in natural reserves.

In Kenya, there are more than 50 national parks and reserves. Kenya is a very nature-oriented country with lots of wildlife to watch and to get to know more about, but also with beautiful flowers. The flower industry is one of the strong points of Kenya’s economy as well. It is called “floriculture”, which means growing flowers for sale. There are flower farms, some are specialized in certain types of flowers, mostly in the central part of Kenya, because of a more adequate weather there. Once they are ready, the flowers are transported in special types of cars, they need to be transported very fast so that they stay fresh; they have to reach the cities within hours.

It is a nice practice, because it helps in maintaining the environment, it makes the country beautiful and it does not pollute the environment. But there are bad sides too, sometimes there are insufficient funds, producers don’t have money to transport the flowers or to pay the people to cultivate them, and then your see dried up flowers, sometimes because of poor management, sometimes because of poor market for the flowers (the buyers need to buy food and necessary things, so  if circumstances are bad in terms of economy, they have no money for flowers). Some of those flowers are also exported to other countries.

We asked her about the COVID situation in Kenya, especially because her country is so dependent on tourism economically, and she said that the pandemic has had a negative impact on Kenya because many people have lost their jobs: tourism has decreased drastically, everything was closed for a certain period of time in 2020, including schools. Only stores to buy food or the banks remained open. The planes couldn’t fly either, so business and tourism were slowed down a lot.

But after the interview, it was really clear that when things come back to normal, if you want to travel in an eco-friendly way, we would recommend to go to Kenya because it is a very good place for people concerned about the environment. If you’re a lover of nature, there are many eco-friendly touristic places that you can find in Kenya, in which you can camp, hike and learn about the local stories, see wild animals, watch the beautiful sunsets and just enjoy life. If you like astronomy, there are observatories because the astral phenomena are amazing. And you’ll have the chance to interact with the local communities.

For the lovers of fast-food, sadly they don’t have any Mac Donald's in Kenya but there are still many fast-food places like KFC or many well-known pizza places so you can still go and enjoy the food :)… And as we said in class, when you are a tourist you should really skip global chains and go to “Mom and Pop’s restaurants”, where you can taste the typical local food like Ugali, which Betsy advised. Tilapia is the fish most consumed in Kenya, but there are also salmon, shrimp, or omena, which is a small tilapia. All these dishes sounded delicious and tasty

It was a good experience to have the opportunity to interview Betsy, and we learned a lot of things during this hour. It will be extremely useful for our next holiday if we can travel there… ( if we are soon able to travel again!).


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