What you need to know:
- Unfortunately, we arrived at Mamba Village about 20 minutes past the 4.30pm feeding time.
- As we drove off, I could not help noticing how run-down the place looked.
Last Sunday, my three-year-old son saw a herd of goats and exclaimed, wonder in his voice, “Giraffes!” My first reaction was to burst out in laughter, considering that there is nothing remotely similar between goats and giraffes, starting with their necks.
When my amusement petered out, however, it occurred to me that if he thought goats were giraffes, then I was really doing badly as a parent — in fact, I was long overdue for a ‘worst-parent-of-the-year’ award. I, therefore, made an urgent mental note to start deliberately exposing him, live, to as many animals as possible, both domestic and wild.
That is how I found myself in Mamba Village, located in Karen’s suburbs. I had been there some years back, and figured that he would be really excited to see the crocodiles being fed, their massive jaws greedily chomping the huge pieces of meat. He would not only get to see crocs, he would also see monkeys and ostriches too, which I can safely say he would never confuse with hens since he sees hens every day — you can imagine how comforting this thought is, in light of the giraffe blunder.
Unfortunately, we arrived there about 20 minutes past the 4.30pm feeding time, and since feeding time is usually the showstopper, we decided to return another Sunday in time for the must-watch event. As we drove off, I could not help noticing how run-down the place looked, at least the little I saw of it. It looked desolate, morose, even. The buildings, especially those that welcome you to the crocodile sanctuary – the guard house and the ticketing area, could have done with a fresh coat of paint and the dusty grounds with some grass.
Good tourist attraction
The uniforms the workers wore had also seen better days – employees, the foremost ambassadors of a business, reflect the soul of the business and if they look prosperous, happy and motivated, well, need I explain?
During my last visit, there had been a sign on the side of the road directing you to the place, this time round, there was none, and I actually missed the turn. The road leading here is also a bumpy, dusty ride, while the concrete fence surrounding the property long begun to lean over. Parking is ample, but it is one big rocky, dry, uneven area – I took one look at it, and coming from ‘a certain community’, I could not help visualising a block of flats standing majestically on that underutilised prime piece of land. But I digress.
No doubt, Covid-19 has dealt many businesses a big blow. I would imagine that 2020 was especially difficult for such a business, which relies on human traffic to keep running, to keep paying its workers. Quite a number of entertainment facilities barely managed to stay afloat, while many more were forced to fold up.
While acknowledging the difficulty of running a business in the midst of Covid-19, it would be a shame if this place would lose repeat customers due to first impression. It is a good tourist attraction, and would make a great resource centre for schools, but it needs to first look attractive and welcoming.
The writer is editor, Society & Magazines, Daily Nation. Email: [email protected] ke.nationmedia.com