“The Theater of Kenya’s Rich Culture ”
Bomas of Kenya is a cultural centre established by the government of Kenya in the year 1971 to maintain preserve and promote the cultural diversity in this country. The word Boma is a Kiswahili word which means a home-stead, hence the word Bomas, with reference to the various homesteads artificially represented there. Bomas of Kenya is therefore intended to represent the cultural products in pure form and to promote protection of its authenticity.
With the current growing interest in cultural heritage, growth in cultural tourism has increased a positive worldview of the importance of cultural resources as a tool for creating economic development while preserving cultural resources. As the premier institution in cultural resources preservation and management, Bomas of Kenya is bound to play a bigger role in the development and promotion of cultural tourism in Kenya.
Why it stands out.
The destination offers visitors a convenient place to enjoy the Kenyan cultural product, especially those with limited time of stay in the country. It is a perfect learning point for a glimpse of the various aspects of Kenyan cultures group traditional way of life. It gives both local and international tourists a chance to enjoy and learn about the Kenyan culture in one destination. Its location near the Nairobi national park makes it easy to be packaged in include in a city itinerary.
How to get there.
Bomas of Kenya is located in the outskirts of Nairobi city. It borders the famous Nairobi national park on the west along the Langata road.
Wilson airport is just a kilometer away hence one can fly to the airport and connect via taxi. Its proximity to the main road makes it accessible by both public and private means of transport. From the city center one can board either 24, 126 or 125 matatus to get to the place. The road is in a good condition though traffic may be an issue during peak hours.
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Opening hours and charges.
Bomas of Kenya is open daily. Opening hours are 10:00 am to 6:00 pm daily for the traditional villages, 2:30 to 4:00pm for the cultural shows Monday to Friday and 3:30 to 5:15pm for the cultural shows on weekends.
Charges are sh. 600 for non-residents, sh. 100 for domestic adult travelers, sh. 50 for children and sh. 30 for students.
What to do and see
There are several attractions in the Bomas of Kenya but the major ones are the cultural villages and the traditional dances shows at the main auditorium.
The traditional villages
The destination has mud houses representing the 42 tribes of Kenya, each with an information board outside each village to give the visitors an idea of what the life of this community used is or used to be. The setting of the houses is meant to depict the way of life of the communities and set the mood for that cultural immersion feeling.
Traditional performed arts
The fascinating shows are done in the auditorium in the evening on a daily basis. They are meant to portray entertainment cultural element of traditional Kenyan societies.
A lunar park/ Kids area
There is an artificial establishment with leisure amenities for keeping the children busy as their parents enjoy the dances and various products offered at the Bomas of Kenya. It is strategically placed outside the auditorium to make it easy for parents to monitor their children.
There are several curio shops inside the property selling various bead works, carvings, traditional artifacts, African attires. The management offers the crafts men and women or their agents the space and also helps in marketing their products by strategically placing the curio shops at the exit of the cultural villages
The destination has a restaurant by the name Utamaduni serving standard drinks and meals to visitors. However, the type of service was a bit discriminatory where urgency in service delivery was prioritized based on skin color, where the waiter’s seemed to give a warm welcome to some small groups of foreigners and delivered their orders on time while a larger group of local visitors were left unattended for longer periods of time.
My Product Experience Rating
Generally, the destination approach is good since it manages to bring the Kenyan tribes cultures together in one place. It has the fascinating experience to those interested in cultural products. However, the village’s lack live interpretation making the artificial villages seem boring and may be also be misinterpreted specially by visiting foreigners.
The development plan for the cultural villages was not well thought. The design of the villages has exposed the soil to soil erosion and this is evidenced by the open roots that are seen on the trees along the nature trails.
The traditional dances are amazing although authenticity is a matter of question. There was a tendency of repetition of different dances by same dancers making it lack liveliness and originality. The information about the dances before and after the performances were well done. Because of I questioned the authenticity of the culture being portrayed, I will give it a 6.5 for attraction. Rating: 6.5
Guiding and Interpretation
Guiding and interpretation is generally poor although the cultural performances are well interpreted prior and after the show. On the other hand, the cultural villages are left unattended with no guides or interpreters on site. Information boards are however present in each cultural village. Rating; 5/10
Waste management was poor. Paths along the cultural villages and nature trails were littered with glass and plastic bottles and paper. There was only one waste bin for all types of waste at the entrance of the auditorium.
Visitor and attendants safety was also of concern as there were open ditches containing dirty water. The perimitar wall may also interfere with wildlife that cross from the park to the Bomas of Kenya especially the warthogs.
On the plus side, the curio shops were managed by local Kenyans. Rating; 4/10
Overall rating is 5.2/10.
The destination should consider authenticity in the cultural dance shows, enhance its guiding and interpretation and rethink its waste management. However, it is a nice place to visit and enjoy Kenya’s culture before you immerse yourself on the real thing while on safari.
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Reviewed on 6th May 2017 by Paul Kimina