•The discovery of Turkana Boy by a Kenyan -Mr. Kamoya Kimeu working together with Dr. Richard Leakey in 1984, is known to have existed some 1.6 million years ago.
•This discovery definitely positions the Nation as the origin of humankind, presenting a possibility for Kenya to host pilgrimages from all over the world.
Away from the beaten path of wildlife and beaches, Kenya has a strong pillar –that of culture and heritage.
We have yet to harness this potential to its fullest.
As Kenya’s tourism marketing agency, we are embarking on this assignment as part of our strategy to diversify tourism offerings to cater to the diverse needs of our visitors.
Our narrative on this pillar of culture and heritage could not have come at a better time as we reposition the country as a cradle of humankind.
It is no secret that paleontologists recognise Kenya globally as a hotbed of archeological discoveries, contributing to the history of human evolution as captured by the many fossils discovered in the country.
The discovery of Turkana Boy by a Kenyan -Mr. Kamoya Kimeu working together with Dr. Richard Leakey in 1984, is known to have existed some 1.6 million years ago.
This young boy of about 9 – 12 years of age and 1.6 meters tall is the only almost complete skeleton of a human-related fossil ever found in the world.
This discovery definitely positions the Nation as the origin of humankind, presenting a possibility for Kenya to host pilgrimages from all over the world.
The return of the Lake Turkana cultural festival after a three-year hiatus became another launching pad to reclaim our position that Kenya is where humankind originated.
The 7th edition of the three-day festival dubbed “Tobung’u Lore” to mean Welcome BackHome in Turkana language, attracted visitors from neighboring countries including Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan and international tourists from the United Kingdom, USA among other nations.
The Head of State William Samoe Ruto who was the chief guest while inviting the world to Kenya, aptly put “Toboung’Lore is not a local nor national celebration, but a global celebration of culture and humanity”.
This narrative comes at a time when the nation is gearing towards ensuring as many African and international nations access Kenya visa-free, making their dream of getting back home-their origin become a reality.
This will help us leverage the riches of our history as a nation as we seek to diversify the tourism industry, bring economic benefits to the local communities, increase awareness about each community’s wealth of history as well as position our country as Africa's top cultural destination.
Turkana fossils offer every visiting tourist from across the globe, an opportunity to connect with Kenya, which is then fortified by the cultural experiences that see tourists get to explore their roots and learn of the history of humanity and discoveries made on this side of the world.
As KTB, we will continue to encourage community participation by involving the local ethnic communities in tourism development where they are reaping directly to these cultural events.
Investment in these kinds of people-centered initiatives will attract more tourists as we collaborate with both the national and county governments to retain their interest in the development of the tourism industry in Kenya.
To further enhance cultural tourism, we will be working with the partners and product owners to map out cultural trails that showcase our unique historical and cultural sites that will help tourists follow a predefined path, that exposes them to the country’s landmarks that enhance the story of our nation and the people.
Kenya’s deep human heritage and emotional connection to tourists is an integral part of the country's tourism industry and the foundation of its strong appeal to tourists as we seek ways of tapping into non-conventional products, that promote tourism in our country.
The writer is the chairperson of the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB)