Kenyans dismiss CNN story about ‘woman who found whales in Kenya’


Kenyans dismiss CNN story about 'woman who found whales in Kenya'
A humpback whale breaches the surface off the southern Japanese island of Okinawa in a 2007 photo. REUTERS/Issei Kato

In Summary

  • The misleading article credits Jane Spilsbury, a former lawyer from London with having found the aquatic creatures in the country' waters even though it quotes local fishermen saying that they have been seeing the whales for 30 years.

Kenyans on social media are outraged after a CNN article appeared to credit a white woman from London with discovering whales in Kenya.

An article by CNN Travel carried the story with the headline, “The woman who found whales in Kenya” making it look like nobody ever knew of their existence before her.

The misleading article credits Jane Spilsbury, a former lawyer from London with having found the aquatic creatures in the country’ waters even though it quotes local fishermen saying that they have been seeing the whales for 30 years.

It even goes as far as to say that Kenya Wildlife Service did not know they existed.

“We were amazed, because no-one knew there were dolphins out there, not even the Kenya Wildlife Service,” Spilsbury told CNN. She is also credited as being the person behind the country’s “burgeoning marine tourism industry, with tourists seeking out the coastal town of Watamu, located 140 kilometers north of Mombasa, for its humpback whales.”

CNN writes that around 10 years ago, Spilsbury – who formed the Watamu Marine Association – began hearing tales from local fishermen of dolphin and whales sightings and “armed with just a few scraps of paper and a cheap camera” started documenting their existence.

“We literally came from a point of zero information and zero awareness, it seems ridiculous to imagine that nobody knew that the dolphins or whales existed here,” she told CNN.

The uproar has also stirred a racial debate on whether something is only considered a discovery if it is made by a foreigner as opposed to a native.

Angry Kenyans accused CNN of continuing with the somewhat racist agenda of wiping out the locals and only caring for the “white gaze”.

White people like John Hanning Speke, David Livingstone, Johannes Rebmann and Johann Ludwig Krapf have for years been falsely credited with “discovering” major landmarks across Africa like Mt. Kenya, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Lake Victoria, Victoria Falls and others which have existed for of years.

In 2019, Kenyans were also up in arms after a story credited a white person with the sighting of a ‘black leopard’ in Laikipia for the first time in 100 years.

Kenyans on Twitter expressed their anger towards the “discovery” story terming it as disrespectful and racist.

https://twitter.com/AKenyanGirl/status/1346728119932235777?s=20

https://twitter.com/shirogaitho/status/1346709324400353281?s=20

https://twitter.com/kuirab/status/1346712840963567616?s=20

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Story By Ian Omondi
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