Jambo Diani

 

 

JAMBO DIANI

by Joakim Larsen

December 2016

 

 

Diani Beach south of Mombasa, where Kenya meets the Indian Ocean. At first sight this place is paradisic: the people are friendly, polite and laid-back, the air is hot, the land is green and the water is blue and warm. The waves come rolling quietly in on the white sandy beach and a light breeze keeps the tropical sun at a tolerable level - if you don’t move too quickly…

 

Life revolves around the beach and the businesses it generates. People hang out idly, locals and foreigners alike. The tourists are both Kenyans and foreigners; some see the sea for the first time and go through no trouble hiding their excitement.

 

Vendors with flowers in the hat wander the beach tirelessly offering green coconuts, men dressed as masai want to sell you jewelry, and tour operators and shop keepers tempt you with special-price-for-you offers.

 

And the stereotype is true - sugar tourism thrives; retired single white men, who have been drinking and smoking a little too much for a few too many years, men who would enjoy no social status in their home countries... hang out on the beach, in cafés, bars, restaurants and nightclubs, while the beautiful, young, black, models circle around them like flies circle a cow dump.

 

The situation around Mombasa is not as stable as it may seem from outside; there is worry among the people, partly due to do to the low number of tourists. But it is also about the century-old tribal conflicts that lure underneath the paradisic surface. And coming up in August 2017 is the election which is feared will provoke the underlying tension...

 

 

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