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African Hosts and their Guests

African Hosts and their Guests: Cultural Dynamics of Tourism

Walter van Beek
Annette Schmidt
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    African Hosts and their Guests
    Book Description:

    Tourism is important for Africa: international tourist arrivals to Africa continue to grow, income from tourism is crucial to national economies, and tourism investments are considered among the most profitable. This edited volume deals with the interaction of local communities with tourists coming into their areas and villages. Based upon a common theoretical approach, fourteen cases of African tourism are discussed which involve direct contact between 'hosts' and 'guests'. The viewpoint throughout is from the side of the locals, establishing how the processes of interaction shape each small scale destination. Crucial in Africa is the fact that the large majority of tourism is game oriented and the interaction between locals and visitors is very much 'tainted' by this fact. Central is the notion of the tourist bubble - the infrastructure that is generated locally (and internationally) for hosting tourists, as it is this institutional interface that tends to impact on the local society and culture, not the tourists themselves directly. The examples come from all over Africa, from the Sahara to the Eastern Cape, and from Kenya to Ghana. All contributions are based upon original fieldwork. Walter van Beek is professor of anthropology at Tilburg University and Senior Researcher at the African Studies Centre, Leiden; Annette Schmidt is curator of the African department at the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden, and is an archaeologist with a long experience in cultural management projects.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-024-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Valene Smith

    The scientification of tourism began in March 1974 when I inserted a one inch notice in the Fellow Newsletter of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) asking: ‘Is anyone else interested in the study of tourism?’ Twenty-eight replies came quickly, and with the aid of Western Union telegraph and Special Delivery mail (in the era before email and fax), an agenda was established for the forthcoming AAA meetings in Mexico City that November. Following the two sessions, all participants gathered in a hotel suite to review our thoughts. Nelson Graburn commented: ‘We have REALLY done something special.’ Discussion turned to the...

  5. [Map]
    (pp. xi-xi)
  6. 1 African dynamics of cultural tourism
    (pp. 1-34)
    Walter van Beek and Annette Schmidt

    Although Africa is not the centre of world tourism and will not be for the foreseeable future, tourism is important for Africa¹. African tourism has grown in international tourist arrivals, but its present 3-5% share in world tourism² is, viewing its land surface and population, a clear underrepresentation. The great magnet for global tourism still is the Mediterranean area, where over 40% of all world tourism is destined for, but also tourism to Asia amounts to 15% of arrivals. The prognostics of the UNWTO before the credit crisis suggested a doubling of tourism arrivals and revenues in the next 15...


    • 2 To dance or not to dance? Dogon masks as a tourist arena
      (pp. 37-57)
      Walter van Beek

      This is a story about masks. But the masks themselves do not form the centre of this tale, but the question of dancing ‘rights’: who may dance with them and who may not. And for the Dogon of Mali this fight is not about just any masks, but theirs! Dogon masks may be well known in the world of museum exhibitions and art dealers; for the Dogon themselves masks form the main fascination in their culture.

      The general setting is the village of Tireli, nestled at the foot of the Bandiagara cliff, a village where tourists come regularly during the...

    • 3 Semiotics & the political economy of tourism in the Sahara
      (pp. 58-74)
      Georg Klute

      In a conversation I had with Jeremy Boissevain and Tom Selwyn about the anthropology of tourism at the Mediterranean Summer School in Piran, Slovenia, 2002, Tom Selwyn suggested that anthropological research on the topic should bring together political economy and (imaginative) semiological approaches.¹ As I was fascinated by Tom’s suggestion, I sat down and tried to write an essay on the issue for a lecture at the Free University of Berlin.² Despite the fact that I had never conducted fieldwork specifically on tourism in the Sahara, I became, interested in the topic, however, during my research on the Tuareg upheavals...

    • 4 ‘How much for Kunta Kinte?!’: Sites of memory & diasporan encounters in West Africa
      (pp. 75-102)
      Kim Warren and Elizabeth MacGonagle

      In Juffureh, Gambia, in the summer of 2006, a Gambian man followed a group of European and American tourists back to the boat that had brought them to his village after a three-hour trip from the capital of Banjul. He held up two small, wooden, hand-carved statues, and when he caught up to the tourists, he called out a price of 300 dalasi (about twelve American dollars) for the pair. As he and the tourists drew closer to the dock where the boat waited, he lowered his asking price. By the time they reached the dock he reduced it again,...

    • 5 Imitating heritage tourism: A virtual tour of Sekhukhuneland, South Africa
      (pp. 103-114)
      Ineke van Kessel

      Tourism in South Africa has enjoyed rapid growth since the end of Apartheid. The number of foreign visitors increased more than tenfold over a period of ten years, from 640,000 in 1994 to more than 6.5 million in 2003, and reaching 9.2 million in 2007. It is now the country’s fastest growing industry and accounts for just over 7% of its GDP.¹ With all eyes set on an expected influx of visitors for the World Cup in 2010, many South Africans were keen to tap their share of tourist revenue. It was projected that tourism would employ more than 1.2...


    • 6 Hosts & guests: Stereotypes & myths of international tourism in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.
      (pp. 117-136)
      Joseph Mbaiwa

      Developing countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa are the fastest growing destinations of international tourist. About 30 per cent of all international tourist arrivals are in developing countries; this proportion has nearly tripled over the past 20 years.¹ Marketing of tourism destinations in developing countries is largely done by multinational tour operators, travel agencies, and other intermediaries with origins in developed countries. Promotional materials used by these agencies create particular images about destinations in developing countries. As Morgan & Pritchard² state, the ‘...images of tourism destinations in developing countries ... tend to reflect a western, white, male, colonial perspective’, whereby...

    • 7 Kom ’n bietjie kuier: Kalahari dreaming with the ≠Khomani San
      (pp. 137-152)
      Kate Finlay and Shanade Barnabas

      This chapter³ seeks to discuss issues of representation, relationships between the hosts and tourists, and development involving cultural tourism at !Xaus Lodge; a venture partly owned by the ≠Khomani San.⁴ The historical representation of the San has proved influential in the way in which the current ≠Khomani community represent and articulate themselves when engaging with ‘outsiders’. We explore the reasoning behind the romantic representation of the ≠Khomani and describe the ‘realities’ at !Xaus Lodge through our own (as researcher-tourists) and through tourists’ experiences.⁵ As with tourists to any destination, expectations and resulting experiences vary widely,⁶ so too do people’s expectations...

    • 8 Treesleeper camp: A case study of a community tourism project in Tsintsabis, Namibia
      (pp. 153-175)
      Stasja Koot

      Tourism in Namibia has a strong focus on nature. ‘Cultural tourism’ or ‘ethnic tourism’ is there, but on the margins of nature-based tourism. Wildlife parks and beautiful landscapes are the main attractions here. The Fish River Canyon, the Namib Naukluft Desert and of course Etosha National Park are amongst the highlights of Namiba. It is a country with good infrastructure and there are plenty of high quality guest farms, hunting farms and lodges where tourists can have an ‘African experience’. Wildlife is numerous, also outside the parks and in conservation areas. In a comfortable setting, tourists can go trophy hunting...

    • 9 ‘The lion has become a cow’: The Maasai hunting paradox
      (pp. 176-200)
      Vanessa Wijngaarden

      I vividly remember the nights around the campfire at an ecotourism camp on the edge of Masai Mara National Reserve, with lions and a resident leopard roaring in the distance while young Maasai men dramatically describe their culture and customs to tourists sipping their sundowners.¹ The men speak confidently in English, but are dressed in Maasai shukas and red blankets,² wearing sandals and beaded jewellery. Their stories are told with stern, powerful voices, in the theatrical manner that is common to Maasai men speaking in public.

      As the tourists gaze in amazement and curiosity at the spears and swords flickering...

    • 10 The organization of hypocrisy? Juxtaposing tourists & farm dwellers in game farming in South Africa
      (pp. 201-222)
      Shirley Brooks, Marja Spierenburg and Harry Wels

      Charles is a landowner in an area of KwaZulu-Natal province known locally as the Midlands. Over the past decades he has built up a profitable business as a cattle breeder. Now however, there is pressure for him to participate in a land-use change fuelled by the tourism industry: the conversion of some sixteen privately owned farms in the area into an upmarket wildlife-based lifestyle development called the Gongolo Wildlife Reserve (GWR). Charles’s farm is located inside the area that would constitute the proposed GWR, so he finds himself in a difficult position as the only ‘hold-out’ against the move to...


    • 11 Backpacking in Africa
      (pp. 225-238)
      Ton von Egmond

      Backpacker tourism is a recent phenomenon that originated in the 1960s and 1970s and expanded exponentially in the 1990s. The emergence of backpacking as a large-scale contemporary tourism phenomenon is related to certain distinctive traits in Western societies and the position of youth in them. In the early days, Cohen¹ differentiated between non-institutionalised tourists and their institutionalised counterparts. The latter complied with the conventional features of mass tourism, particularly in their preference for being confined to the Western ‘environmental bubble’ or ‘tourist bubble’, while the former were referred to as ‘drifters’ or ‘nomads’.² A variety of names have been used...

    • 12 ‘I’m not a tourist. I’m a volunteer’: Tourism, development and international volunteerism in Ghana
      (pp. 239-255)
      Eileadh Swan

      The bustling town of Ho in Ghana is not a typical tourist destination, those places where buses filled with camera-wielding tourists have become an everyday occurrence. Ho is the administrative capital of the Volta Region in the mainly Ewe speaking South East of the country, where the few luxury hotels located there are used primarily by Ghanaian and foreign governmental and non-governmental organisations for meetings, conferences and workshops. Nonetheless, some tourists do come to stay in Ho for a few days at a time, making it a base from which to explore the famous waterfalls, mountains and monkey sanctuaries with...

    • 13 Becoming ‘real African kings & queens’: Chieftaincy, culture, & tourism in Ghana
      (pp. 256-272)
      Marijke Steegstra

      Ghanaians are often called the friendliest people in Africa in tourist guides and on tourist websites. They indeed have quite an overwhelming way of dealing with foreign guests. As stated in the excerpt above, John Lawler was even installed a chief after he had spent a gap year as a teacher in the Volta Region in Ghana. After further visits to Ghana, he established a travel company called ‘Madventurer’ which organises ‘expeditions that encompass adventure and development work in developing countries’. No doubt some of the adventurer volunteers participating in his programme have also been made chiefs or queens in...

    • 14 Sex trade & tourism in Kenya: Close encounters between the hosts & the hosted
      (pp. 273-289)
      Wanjohi Kibicho

      The purpose of this chapter is to highlight the interaction between hosts and guests in romance-oriented tourism, demonstrating how local people’s views on sex (trade)-oriented tourism vary according to their interest and experience. In order to illustrate the nexus between the tourism industry and the sex profession, I draw on the data from a leading tourism destination area in the country – Malindi, (see map) where local residents view tourism as a creator of sex trade. Further, the interactions between the tourists and the host community has challenged behavioural patterns in Kenya, as the one-time or longterm relationships in the...

    • 15 Host-guest encounters in a Gambian ‘love’ bubble
      (pp. 290-315)
      Lucy McCombes

      Romance tourism involves a very direct kind of host-guest encounter,¹ popularly brushed aside as an unsavoury means for young men and women in a destination to ‘get rich quick’ from love-struck or lusting tourists. Drawing on my research on factors that affect the nature of the interaction between package tourists and ‘bumsters’ (i.e. beach boys) in The Gambia,² this chapter illustrates different perspectives of the nature of the host-guest encounters involved in romance tourism. The history, context, and characteristics of these encounters are considered and the concept of the tourist bubble applied to reflect how these encounters are affected by...

  10. Afterword Trouble in the bubble: Comparing African tourism with the Andes Trail
    (pp. 316-323)
    Annelou Ypeij

    As the chapters in this volume show, tourism in Africa is characterised by heterogeneity and complexity. Though wildlife tourism is the continent’s main tourist attraction, all kinds of cultural tourism and sea, sand, sun (and sex) tourism can also be found. Small-scale tourism developments directed at niche markets, such as those of the Dogon, Touareg, volunteer, roots, chief and community-based tourism, exist shoulder to shoulder with large-scale industries with a mix of foreign and domestic investment, as the Kenyan and South African cases show. This diversity means contradictory outcomes for local populations. While some local people and communities are able...

  11. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 324-330)
  12. Index
    (pp. 331-340)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 341-341)