Sad:Alone in a 350 Bed Resort-Pain In Mombasa Hotel Industry
The realities reporters don’t tell you:When hotels are built in Kenya, it is not to attract the local Kenyans. The only time Kenyans, some Kenyans, afford to spend money in resorts is during the December holiday. Between the 23rd and 2nd January, the hotels in Mombasa are packed with the few well off Kenyans who can afford 15,000Ksh a night. For the rest of the Kenyans, this money is the salary that must take care of a family. Therefore when tourists are scared away, the rooms in the beautiful Mombasa coast are empty!
Imagine therefore the crisis when media houses and reporters in Nairobi spread rumors about insecurity? Reporters rush to Mombasa when there is an isolated incident. They scare everybody away and never return to talk about how wonderful Mombasa resorts are! They ride their matatu safe and secure to their apartments in the Nairobi estates after scaring people that the country is insecure. I drove to Mombasa alone in my car for work and to test my belief that the country is safe. There is nothing like driving from Nairobi to Mombasa. The road is good, Mtito Andei remains the travelers stop place: Wish they could work on the toilets!
Coast bus, Modern bus, and a new one I have not seen before, Dream liner, blows smoke filled with Kenyans travelling to their homes at the coast. Chania bus service still passes me going at restrictive speeds: I do not recommend them. I arrive in Mombasa Mariakani at 7pm to the nightmare of truckers getting ready for the trip to Rwanda, Burudi, Congo, Uganda and the other countries that depend upon Kenya for their goods. From Mariakani to Mombasa is about 40 kilometers and it takes an hour and a half. My dream of a luxurious bed waiting at the resort keeps my spirits up. Mombasians are the same peace loving people walking about in the night without fear. This coastal town is just fine.
Driving through Bobolulu is always my problem: too many people walking and adding to the problem, some character decided to bring the Indian Tuk Tuk. You can imagine the chaos. The arrival at my favorite hotel in Nyari is always a pleasure. Usually you enter and go to the dinning room full of guests. Mainly Europeans enjoying the food that only Kenya can provide. The smiles of the hotel workers and the joy they show while serving guests has earned the republic great reviews. Tourists claim that we are the friendliest people! This time they are so happy to see me I get nervous. Then the dinning manager approaches me and gives me the news.
From February things have been bad. The hotel has laid off most of the workers leaving the old crew numbering 5 people. “Can you imagine occupying a full resort with two other guests?” He asks. Usually when I arrive and there is no one, it is because they checked out that morning and others arrive by 5pm. This time, I am sitting alone in the dinning room. “Our neighbors next door laid off 30 of its employees. From South Coast to here, every hotel is bleeding.” He informs me in a tone of despare! I think about the poor Kenyans who have no rent money, school fees, books, milk, unga and have to face their children who have been kicked out of school for school fees!
But you got to love Kenyans. With this kind of gloom, you would expect them to be angry. But not Kenyans, “Mungu anajua bwana. Tufanye nini. Atatuonekania tu.” Faith keeps them going as they wonder why reports of insecurity are more important than the truth. “Unajua, hapa hakuna lolote lakini watu wana reporti za insecurity mpaka watalii wanaamini.” The next day I drive to Kilifi to find a peaceful road and a peaceful town. In the evening I go to Nyari Java House. As I write this article, I look around and wonder what the Nairobi media houses have against Mombasa to claim there is insecurity!
The Christian that I am control himself but inside, I am hoping we can stop buying their newspapers or watching their idle talkers so that these reporters can be laid off. At least they can discover that these idle reports about insecurity are a bunch of nonsense! When they lie, they affect the lives of their fellow Kenyans who have bills to pay and children to raise. The hotel industry in Kenya employs many young and old people. It is a backbone of our economy. Kenyans must be patriotic enough to desist from unfounded propaganda.
For those of us in the Diaspora, we should consider taking vacations back to our wonderful coast. I have been to many “1st and 2nd” world countries. But nothing is better than a buffet at a Kenyan coast resort! Where can you eat a well-cooked Ugali meal and stay in a room next to the beach? Next time you travel, check out Mombasa. Cancun cannot match the hospitality, the food, safe evening walk on the beach, and the clear dark skies reviewing God’s Stars! Tembeeni!
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD) HTBluff Associates @HTBluff/Diaspora Messenger contributor