Our son Daniel who is studying in a U.S. University was recently denied a research grant for Kenya. The reason? Because Kenya is on Travel Advisory. In other words, he cannot be approved to come home because it is too dangerous! That got me really curious. I started exploring the possible reasons for such a travel ban. Obviously with war going on just across the border into Somalia, and threats by Al-Shabaab-cum-Al-Qaeda, we need to be alert. Nevertheless, life goes on.
Although a travel advisory automatically wreaks havoc in our tourist industry, some things are looking very good in Kenya right now. A seventy-five billion dollar project has been launched that connects South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya with a highway, electric train and oil pipeline. With the discovery of oil in Uganda, natural gas in Tanzania, and niobium and titanium in Kenya, the Horn of Africa economies are ready to boom.
Even Somalia has a chance this time. Since the Kenya army entered Somalia over 100 days ago, there have been major changes. Many Somalis from Eastleigh in Nairobi (a type of ‘Somali-town’, so to speak) are now going home to build offices, supermarkets and hotels in Mogadishu. Western countries are beginning to open embassies there. Somalia is gradually becoming a nation again.
Back to Kenya. Somebody sitting in Washington D.C. apparently found it necessary to put Kenya on travel advisory! Seriously, let’s take a look at the international list of the ten top murder cities. The worst is Baghdad, but right next to it is Washington D.C. Nobody tells you not to go to Washington! In fact, Presidents of the world go there. How ironic that somebody sitting in Washington D.C., the city with the second highest murder statistics in the world, can comfortably tell U.S. citizens how to regulate their travel plans. And, that colleges decide to give or not give research grants based on the same. Nairobi does not even feature in the ‘top ten’ list of dangerous cities. (FYI, moving down we have Detroit, Karachi, Pakistan; Chechnya, Russia; Mogadishu; Ciudad Juárez,Mexico; Caracas, Venezuela, New Orleans and Cape Town. Nairobi does not even come close!)
King David’s travel advisory took a very different slant. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” “A thousand will fall by your side; ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. . . .” Amazing promises!
Wherever we are in the world, I am consoled by the fact that the safest place to be is in God’s will. When we are in His will, we will walk safely and serve confidently in any location – travel advisory or not.
Welcome to Nairobi, Kenya!