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© 2019 by "KiAfriqa"

  • Emery A. Iranyuranya

The Foreigner's Privilege: How Some People Abuse.

Updated: Jun 9, 2019


Kenya, Laikipia, Lewa Downs. A family on safari game viewing during a game drive at Lewa Downs. (MR)

Visitor attraction has become essential to the development of the tourism industry in Africa. Although some visitors abuse the privileges granted to them.

Last year, I read an article on the internet talking about the privileges and benefits that the White Americans were likely to get just because of the color of their skin[and economic status]. These benefits can range from simple things such as attention, respect and status in conversations; to even vital services such as protection by the police. In a 2014 report released by a team of researchers of the University of Arizona, it was revealed that ''White men with a criminal record had more positive responses than black men with no criminal record" when they apply for job. All these privileges and benefits that White people could get because of the color of their skin were summarized in one word; The White Privilege. Today I want to tackle something similar, but which doesn't necessarily [always] depend on the color of the skin. I am going to talk about the way some of the visitors, tourists (foreigners) abuse the privileges and benefits granted to them by their host countries (in my case, Rwanda).


It is was on the December 31 2018, a few minutes before 2019 starts, many Kigalians and other visitors (non Rwandans) were heading to the Kigali Convention Center where fireworks were to be shot as part of the New Year celebration. There was a huge number of people. While some were already on the lines, waiting to be checked by the security agents, other people were still coming. Everybody was excited about the event ahead. Several armed and unarmed police agents could be seen all around the place, trying assure security and order.


As midnight drew closer and the waiting crowd increased, people began to get impatient. No one wanted to miss the fireworks. People started violating protocols by trying to go directly to the checkpoint without passing through the lines. Then one police agent came and asked everybody to go back to their lines and wait for their turn.


''I am not Rwandan'', harshly responded one lady to the police agent. The police officer came a bit closer to the lady, and tried to explain to her that ''Only those on the lines will be allowed to enter, and this is after they have been checked." Frustrated, she left with her group that consisted of five other people, and returned to the lines. The group was made up of both Whites and people of color (who, I think, were American because of their English accent). Later, I tried to talk to the police agent, he looked very shocked, he did not understand why the lady was so frustrated. "Why does not she want to follow protocols like everyone else," he said, "being a visitor does not give her the right to go directly to the checkpoint without going through the lines first. "


The response of the lady to the police officer kept playing in my mind. I asked myself what she wanted to mean by mentioning that she was not Rwandan. Maybe she wanted to get a better service from the Police agent, I thought. Maybe after telling the police agent that she was a foreigner, he would change his previous decision, and allow her to go directly to the checkpoint. In addition, the manner in which the police agent provided polite explanations to the lady confirmed my previous assumption: there are some benefits to visitors in service delivery. Then the last question that came to my mind was: "Is it fair to give visitors special consideration in the service delivery than to nationals?"


Since last year, different rumors have been circulating that in different local bars, hotels to even nightclubs in Kigali whereby foreign customers are treated with a special consideration compared to the local ones. It was even reported that in one of the most famous nightclubs in the city, "some'' customers were allowed to enter wearing shorts and sandals, which is normally prohibited. Moreover, from what I have heard, it is the non-national visitors [mainly white] who benefit from these exceptions. "They are prestigious customers," said a person working in the entertainment industry. "They help us run our businesses by spending a lot of money," he concluded.


In Africa, many (if not all) countries have developed strategies to attract foreign investment and boost their tourism industries. Furthermore, different reports have clearly shown that in the past ten years, tourism has clearly contributed to the Africa's economy. "The average total contribution of tourism to gross domestic product (GDP) increased from $69 billion in 1995–1998 to $166 billion in 2011–2014, that is from 6.8 per cent of GDP in Africa to 8.5percent of GDP", concluded The Economic Development in Africa Report 2017 by the UNCTAD. This report also showed that "Tourism generated more than 21 million jobs on average in 2011–2014, which translates into 7.1 per cent of all jobs in Africa.''


Rwanda, one of Africa's booming economies, also draws a lot of revenue from tourism. In its annual report for 2017, the Rwanda Development Board stated that "Rwanda recorded 28,308 delegates in 2017, up from 23,804 in 2016 with meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions contributing US$ 42 million in 2017 (down from $47M in 2016). The sub sector is expected to increase its contribution of receipts to $74M in 2018."


The figures above clearly confirm the undeniable contribution of tourism in the economic development of Africa in general and Rwanda in particular. Therefore, we can not deny the positive effect of the good services offered to them (visitors). Thus, those working in the service sector should rather be encouraged to improve the quality of their services (and their products) because, after all, they are the first beneficiaries: the income they earn helps them pay their bills, pay school fees for their children, etc. .

Taking care of visitors is not only there to generate income, but on the contrary, it is deeply rooted in Rwandan [and African] culture. As a matter of fact, Different words in Kinyarwanda; such as Gufata ikintu nk'amata y'abashyitsi (to take good care of something like the milk of a guest) and kuganiriza abashyitsi (to entertain guests with stories) show us how much a visitor is very much appreciated and respected in Rwandan [and African] culture, and that it is up to the host to make the visitor feel good. On the other hand, the guest must recognize the hospitality of the guest and show gratitude.


From my own experience in customer services (as a customer service consultant), I found that in most cases, foreigners (visitors and expats) are very friendly. In fact, it is very rare to see them leave without saying "Thank you for your service" or "Goodbye". These simple words of gratitude are very important because they reinforce the worker's spirit and push him to serve the next customer much better.

As Elie Wiesel once famously said, when a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. Showing gratitude to another human being who has served you is a universal value that every human being should embrace. Also, its effects can go beyond the act itself: it does not only bring a smile on someone else's face, but it also strengthens the human values ​​that unite us all.


Originally posted on: https://irascem.home.blog/

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