Tourism versus Morals

Tonight I attended a travel talk on Thailand, but the speaker chose to discuss the fate of disappearing tribes. He talked about the “giraffe” women, who were treated like zoo animals by tour operators who charged tourists to gawk at them.This made me think back on my visit to a Maasai tribe in Kenya. We too had to pay (even if they called it a contribution), to enter the confines of the village and to look into  one of their houses and stare at the women and children and watch the men perform their ritual dance… These visits always make me uncomfortable…and I wonder how authentic all this is or if it is not just a show they put on for us tourists. Our guide assured me that this is authentic and that they really do live in these mud huts without water or electricity….he added that when they come to Nairobi  and visit him, they sleep on the floor rather than use his guest bed and will not use the indoor shower but rather a bucket of water in the garden…They arrive with bags of money, but what do they buy with it I wonder…no gadgets that require electricity, no clothing as they still wear traditional costumes, they are sheperds, so they do not drive cars…livestock maybe?…I wonder what good or harm our visits bring them..  It is obvious they will disappear sooner rather then later as the children are now attending regular schools therefore missing out on the cultural education that elders used to provide. How long will their colorful costumes and striking figures  be  part of the Kenyan scenery…massai.jpgs

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