Harpenden man becomes Kenyan tribal leader

PUBLISHED: 15:01 16 October 2010

Kogelo Tours in Kenya, run by Harpenden resident Tim Fox

Kogelo Tours in Kenya, run by Harpenden resident Tim Fox

Archant

A HARPENDEN man has been appointed tribal elder of a Kenyan tribe in recognition of over a decade of work he has dedicated to the community's development.

Tim Fox, 49, of Southdown Road, has set up a number of self-funded projects designed to enhance living standards and welfare for the Luhya tribe.

Tim, who is the general manager of the homeless charity Emmaus in Harpenden, is believed to be one of the first white British citizens to be made a tribal elder, a position which is held in great prestige in Kenyan culture and puts Tim in charge of over 2,000 members of the Luhya tribe. The tribe is based in the village of Mundeku, in the Western Province of Kenya, close to Lake Victoria.

His work has also been officially recognised by the Obama OPIYO foundation - the foundation founded by Barack Obama’s Kenyan uncles which aims to provide people everywhere with resources to uplift their welfare and living standards. The Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, has also visited Tim’s projects to acknowledge the positive impact they are having on the community.

Tim’s projects have included setting up a digital village which is designed to teach the local children how to use computers, and a demonstration farm, which helps teach locals how to utilise their limited land to grow food to eat and sell.

Tim’s charity work now forms a part of the company Kogelo Tours, which was set up to facilitate the travel of foreign tourists to what he describes as “the real parts of Kenya which are yet to be touched by tourism”. Kogelo Tours is also designed to benefit the living standards and welfare of the Villagers.

Tim, is married to Kaz and has three children, said: “For someone from outside the village to be welcomed as an elder was a great honour. My appointment shows that they are really please with what Kogelo is trying to do to benefit the people of the village.”

Tim’s company offers a diverse experience of Kenya and its people, from rural communities to bustling cities, and coastal culture to open grassland.

As well as “making a positive difference to the villagers’ lives by increasing tourism”, Tim said he aims to “change the lives of those who visit by giving them an experience of complete cultural immersion.” He added: “The reaction of individuals who have taken the tour is so rewarding.”

Tim has worked closely with the Obama family in developing his Kenyan tours. At the start of the tour guests visit the home of Grandma Obama - the family matriarch who was seated behind President Obama at his inaugural ceremony in Washington – before dining with the family at the home of President Obama’s uncles.

Tim explained: “The Obamas are pleased to meet foreigners who show an interest in their community. They are very vocal in their gratitude towards visitors. Meeting the family is humbling... like touching a bit of history.”

Tim is also using Kogelo Tours to promote his development projects. Guests have the chance to visit the local school which he supports, or see Tim’s Demonstration Farm or Digital Village.

Tim has tapped into the numerous contacts he has made through these projects in order to offer trips to places such as Lake Victoria, the equator line, the Indian Ocean and a Safari trip as part of Kogelo Tours.

However, Tim believes that seeing the ‘real’ Kenya is just as important as seeing these famous sights. He said: “Being immersed in the Kenyan culture with Kenyan people is incredible. Our aim is ethical tourism; the trip will open your eyes while making a hugely positive impact on the lives of the Kenyan villages. We don’t see Kogelo Tours’ aim to change Kenyan culture, just to provide raw materials and hope. Never underestimate the hope that visiting brings to the community.”

Tim hopes that Kogelo Tours will become successful enough to allow him to focus more time and energy on his Kenyan projects.

For further information on Kogelo Tours visit www.kogelotours.org or email info@kogelotours.org

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