POLITICAL TOURISTS FROM UGANDA AT THE WRONG END OF THE STICK IN NAMIBIA
(Posted 08th June 2014)
Political tourists, mainly comprising parliamentary or other administrative organs’ delegations visiting fellow countries in Africa to learn about the ways how they do business there and address similar challenges, form a major part of the travelling community, benefitting airlines, hotels and ultimately or so it is hoped, their constituents when they come back with novel solutions other than just souvenirs.
A group of 15 Ugandan MP’s though had a rather unexpected experience, after flying to Namibia where they were to observe the preparations for the upcoming elections in that Southern African country, when they were approached in their hotel by a Namibian government advisor, one Mvula Ya Nangolo, who after calling them names then went on to reiterate his verbal attack by using his walking stick on one of the female delegation members.
Described as a poet of sorts, in this case clearly exchanging the pen for the stick, is Nangalo the advisor to the Namibian Minister for Information and Communication Technology, which prompted the incident to be raised to the level of a diplomatic incident, now making the rounds in the media of the two countries and keeping officials busy trying to control the damage, apart from tending to the bruises on the lady’s head.
Tourists visiting Africa of course can always expect surprises, be it a lioness under the tent platform of a safari camp using the shaded place as a nursery or finding themselves featured in tourism campaigns like presently unfolding in Kenya where the Twitter Hashtag #WhyILoveKenya has seen foreign visitors as much as locals take to the social media where they can have their moment of fame.
Being lectured with a stick though, to drive a rowdy message home and being called names is surely not what Namibia’s tourism officials will be happy to promote as an attraction for foreign visitors, especially when the afflicted party is an involuntary participant.
A media report from Namibia, made available for reproduction, describes the scene as follows:
According to staff at the hotel, Nangolo approached the table at which the Ugandan delegation was seated and started hurling insults at Uganda, its leadership and the female MPs at the table. ‘He started to call them names, saying they only come here to do prostitution and a lot of other dirty things’ an employee of the Safari Hotel told a reporter of the Namibian Sun.
Nangolo allegedly told the delegation to read one of his books, in which he wrote about them on page 95. When the women responded and asked why he was saying those things and that he should say it somewhere else, he started to hit one of them on the head with his stick. The scene is said to have drawn a lot of attention and embarrassed the senior government officials who were hosting the foreign delegation.
Maybe fence mending can be launched as a new niche tourism attraction, considering the frantic efforts now underway to put this incident to rest, though I dare say that there will be few takers for that sort of spectacle. Thankfully it is not the norm and visitors to Namibia can expect warmer welcomes and nicer words for their tour guides who will no doubt make double sure from now onwards that Nangolo, or others of his ilk, will be kept at a safe distance.