Bull-fighting scrapped from Kenya tourist firm’s ‘Obama tour’


Nairobi — Kenya’s government Saturday barred a bull-fighting event by a firm which has launched an “Obama circuit” to cash in on foreign tourists’ interest in the US president-elect’s ancestral land.

Bull-fighting is popular in western Kenya, where Barack Obama’s paternal family is from, but no such event before this one had previously been organised in the capital Nairobi.

Nairobi Provincial Commissioner James Waweru went on television to announce the last-minute cancellation, arguing that the city lacked the appropriate facilities to stage the bull-fighting contest.

The plan to bring fighting bulls to Nairobi’s Kasarani stadium caused an outcry from animal rights activists but the organisers charged the government scrapped the event for fear it would bring Obama bad publicity.

“I believe it was a politically-instigated plot. We had already been given a clearance by the government to hold the event in the city,” Hilary Wendo, a spokesman for Target Africa, told AFP.

“There was a lot of enthusiasm from many Kenyans who had never seen bull-fighting and we were sure of filling up the 60,000-seater stadium to capacity,” he said.

“We have spent a lot of money on the preparations. Our idea in bringing it to Nairobi was to showcase the rich traditions of the western Kenyan people,” Wendo said.

Bull-fighting is an annual tradition in some parts of western Kenya which draws thousands of cheering and ululating fans. The fight generally ends when one of the bulls is seriously wounded or dead.

Since Obama’s November 4 presidential election triumph, Target Africa has developed an “Obama circuit” in a bid to cash in on the future president’s Kenyan roots.

Among other activities, it organises tours to the western Kenyan village of Kogelo, which was the epicentre of Kenya’s days-long celebrations for the Democratic candidate’s victory and where Obama’s step grandmother still lives.