COMPLAINT

Kenyan missions abroad won’t pick calls, respond to inquiries

It is nearly impossible for a foreigner to communicate with Kenya's representatives abroad

In Summary

• I've called the Kenyan embassies in Washington, DC and Ottawa, Canada almost every day for the last two weeks. 

•  Here in America, for weeks now, the Kenyan Embassy just plays a recording saying that offices are closed and I should call back during business hours. 

Kenya's embassy in Washington, DC
Kenya's embassy in Washington, DC
Image: COURTESY

I am an American tourist hoping to visit Kenya, but before booking I know I must understand the conditions of entry during this pandemic.

Unfortunately, various Kenyan government agencies are giving conflicting information. With no clear information and a lot of confusion, I will not be able to book. I would clarify with your embassies but they refuse to speak with people, period.   

Go ahead and call them, you will see. I've called the Kenyan embassies in Washington, DC and Ottawa, Canada almost every day for the last two weeks.  Here in America, for weeks now, the Kenyan Embassy just plays a recording saying that offices are closed and I should call back during business hours.  Of course, I am only calling during business hours.

One time I pushed the key to speak with someone as if I was "a Kenyan in crisis," and that person gave me an email address from which I have received no reply.  In Canada, meanwhile, a machine takes voicemail messages but nobody will return the calls. Do I need a negative Covid-19 test taken 96 hours before flying? Or must the result be released within 96 hours?  These are very different things because the first is almost impossible due to slow release of test results, and the second would make it easy to visit Kenya safely as a tourist.

I cannot proceed and book travel, though, because the embassies and consulates have refused to pick up calls, answer messages, reply emails, or otherwise communicate with anyone to clarify this confusion. Kenya's government spends billions of shillings each year on its missions abroad, but they do not provide services to Kenyans or to foreigners hoping to visit or invest in Kenya.  I do not know what they do with your money, with their allowances but I know they don't use it to do their jobs.

Specifically, I have been ignored by the United States and Canadian embassies.  Someone close to me — a Kenyan — was stranded abroad and ignored or chased away by the Kenya embassies in Qatar, UAE, India, Ethiopia, and Saudia Arabia.  She was assisted by the good people at the Dar Es Salaam High Commission, who seem to be the only helpful diplomats you've got.  Three cheers for them!

It is nearly impossible for a foreigner to communicate with Kenya's representatives abroad, and this will discourage potential tourists like me.   If you look up online the phone numbers of Kenya's missions abroad, and if you call them, you will see how true it is. Reaching a person, or getting a reply to a voicemail or email, is nearly impossible at almost all foreign posts. These diplomats are already famous for ignoring Kenyans abroad who are in distress (Lebanon, etc.), and now they also ignore the foreigners they've been stationed to communicate with as the official agents of the republic of Kenya.  

I urge you to encourage President Uhuru Kenyatta to require his diplomats do their jobs and answer phone calls.  Uhuru, please make phone calls yourself to the public phone numbers of Kenya's missions abroad, and just see who doesn't pick.

 Perhaps the ones who don't answer or reply calls should be sacked, but of course, it will be very hard to tell them they're fired if they continue to remain unreachable!

John (second name withheld for fear of retribution from immigration officials)