The appointment of British supermodel Naomi Campbell as Kenya’s tourism ambassador has caused a storm among Kenyans on Twitter.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala announced Campbell’s new assignment last weekend after he met the model, who is currently on holiday in Kenya.
The 50-year-old style icon and philanthropist has been posting images of her stay on Instagram, where she has 10 million followers.
“We welcome the exciting news that Naomi Campbell will advocate tourism and travel internationally for the Magical Kenya brand,” Balala said, without giving further details on the contract.
But the statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday, 12th January, sparked instant outrage from some, and the supermodel’s name has since been trending online.
Many Kenyans queried why the role had not been given to a prominent Kenyan such as Oscar-award winning Hollywood actress Lupita Nyong’o.
Others leapt to Naomi Campbell’s defence, saying the debate already justified her role.
Kenya’s tourism sector has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with visitor numbers down by 72 per cent between January and October last year.
One tweet said the backlash revealed an unhealthy attitude in Kenya.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about who will get the job done. This mentality is what causes nepotism and tribalism in Kenyan institutions. It should be about the most suitable candidate not ‘one of our own’ thing.”
Campbell’s defenders praised her for visiting Kenya several times, clarifying that it was not only the model’s social media following that made her the perfect appointment.
Her circle of friends were equally important as she would attract wealthy tourists willing to spend money in Kenya, it was argued.