EYAKUZE: Streetwalker, why won’t you stay home at night?

Wednesday July 17 2019

Tourists in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.

Tourists in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. The country is a popular tourist destination as it is home to Africa’s tallest mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro and the Ngorongoro Crater. FILE PHOTO | NATION 

ELSIE EYAKUZE
By ELSIE EYAKUZE
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Tanzania is gorgeous. But if we’re honest, it is an African country. Being beautiful is kind of our jam, that’s what we do.

I haven’t visited as many countries as I hope to but let me tell you: There is nowhere you can go on this continent and be like, “Nah, this isn’t beautiful,” except for slums, and they have their own beauty too. So saying that Tanzania is beautiful is like saying the sun will rise tomorrow: Obvious.

And we have exploited this beauty generally to our advantage via the tourism industry. I am ambivalent about that, to be honest: Game reserves and national parks are a colonial construct that displaced people from land under the assumption that we couldn’t be part of nature. Which, if you think about it, is dumb as all get-out.

There is ample evidence that our famous savannahs are the product of a collaboration between man, beast and plant.

An ecosystem that has us in it, if you will. And it’s not just the savannahs either; the division of people from their land is more artificial than we like to admit.

Still, what’s done is done and so let me agitate for the continued presence of our fellow creatures and plants in as healthy and humane a way as possible.

Concentrating desirable game in confined spaces makes the job of poachers easier – told you there is a lot of dumb going around – but arguably at least we have kept our megafauna. By selling Tanzania’s beauty to the world, we have semi-guaranteed its continued survival.

If we’re going to pimp ourselves, my preference is for the high-class escort approach rather than street walking. Safer, more lucrative.

What I mean is extremely high-end, quality tourism with low numbers so we don’t degrade our resources. Low traffic, high end.

And it is with this in mind that I would like to ask my minister for tourism to sit back and consider his options. We need more tourists? Do we, though? This isn’t an amusement park; to attract more tourists we’re going to start messing up the balance. What’s next, popcorn stands and bikinis in Stone Town? I mean, come on.

As for that cable car to the top of Kilimanjaro: For shame. Where to even begin? It’s a mountain, not a hill.

Besides a thorough environmental impact assessment, there are credible medical concerns. As in, one doesn’t summit in a day. It’s one of the mountains on the lists of serious mountaineers, yet gentle enough for rookies because it’s Tanzanian that way: We like everybody to have a chance. But you know what’s a bad idea? Summitting in one day. Because, altitude sickness and why do I even have to point this out?

I hear that our minister of tourism is a medical doctor, make of that what you will. Me, I’ll keep peeking over the border at Rwanda.

Over there, you pay at least a thousand dollars to maybe see a gorilla, maybe not. No refunds. You know who is even more stealthy? Uganda. They don’t play.

Insanely gorgeous country, nobody thinks of it as a tourist destination off the top of their heads. They know what’s up. Quality, not quantity: How is this hard to ken? So yeah. Welcome to Tanzania… in controlled, environmentally friendly, informed, culturally respectful and fit ways. We’re a country, not Disneyland.

Elsie Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report.E-mail: [email protected]

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