Tourism gurus need a sponsor so they can think

The other day, I watched a local TV programme that is sponsored by SA Tourism, that is South Africa's equivalent, I want to guess, of Kenya's numerous tourism bodies which are like Kenya's rate of economic growth which everyone talks about but no one can actually tell you what it is or what it does.

It is not uncommon for a programme to be sponsored, only that the language changed and nowadays a programme is "brought to you by" or "in association with." However, this particular programme is "sponsored" by SA Tourism, right under the noses of Kenyans, and the network proudly declares so, and loudly the voice over proclaims that you have 54 million reasons to visit South Africa. Wow!

When I heard that, I got excited and, I should write, sad at the same time. I was not sad because sponsorship has become the name of the game (what a cliché) or because sponsorship is bad, but because the word sponsor has acquired a different connotation and you can sue when you are called a sponsor.

There is nothing wrong with sponsorship and there are many Kenyans who got an education because they had sponsors when all else had failed and they were almost giving up. Many prominent Kenyans could have died unknown and unheard were it for sponsors with deep pockets who heard their faint cries and listened to their tales of sufferance and helped them further their education.

For years, school children who wanted to raise funds for worthy causes used to ask adults to sponsor them, and it was fine since sponsor was a "clean" word. One cannot be called a liar for saying that Kenya's politicians are the ones who made sponsorship a bad thing since voters sponsor them to elective posts and in turn they sponsor hopelessness.

And so, nowadays, the people sponsor governors, who never sponsor projects which improve livelihoods. Instead, they sponsor ghost projects or over-priced carcinogenic — whatever that is — wheelbarrows and traffic gridlocks and grass.

To be fair to governors, even the central government is not innocent when it comes to sponsorship and its ghost projects are ghostlier and costlier. National government employees act as if they are participating in a sponsorship competition with the counties, and whoever sponsors more phantom projects gets the national cake, which is sponsored by voters, who are the over-burdened tax payers.

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Sponsorship is the name of the blame game and it exists in every sector and sub-sector of Kenya's economy including sports where athletes in the wider sense of the word, sponsor federations and agents and doctors who in turn sponsor doping and when their infractions are questioned, they give excuses and blame unseen foreign forces who in essence have been sponsoring them.

Peculiar Kenyans, and there are 40 million plus, sponsor mobile phone companies, power companies, water companies, hospitals and many other service providers in public and private sectors, but in return, they do not value for their sponsorship monies but poor services.

You can say that again: It is not easy being a consumer in Kenya because you are at the end of the chain, literally, and you are constantly reminded that you can be done away with in a flash. Yes, they can buy you out, sell you at a loss and they will not even feel it!

There are people who say that being a Kenyan is a burden because everywhere you turn, there is a government who wants to rip you off and when you scream, those who respond do not come to help you, but to stare, and then disperse because they have businesses to attend to so that they can sponsor Kenya's numerous governments and their agents and cronies and appointees who have perfected the art of talking big but do not deliver.

At the end of the day, sponsorship is not a bad thing. You might think that life in this country is bad because all you do is work hard so that you can sponsor the government, but it could have been worse if there were no foreign sponsors who put their monies in Kenya's education and health systems, and even in its poaching industry which is sometimes called the tourism industry.

That tourism line takes me back to the local TV programme whose sponsor is SA Tourism. That programme should make Kenya's tourism gurus feel ashamed of themselves. Ideally they desperately and urgently need someone or something that can sponsor their thought process and make them think beyond their old, boring and lame excuses.

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