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No, Kenya has not warned against travel to South Africa

It has been widely reported, in both Kenya and South Africa, that the Kenyan government has issued a travel advisory, warning Kenyans against travel to South Africa. South Africa, apparently, is too dangerous.

Except that’s not what happened.

“The Government of the Republic of Kenya has not issued any travel warning barring her citizens from travelling to South Africa,” said Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement.

According to the ministry, the warnings about crime and insecurity in South Africa – including that “the diplomatic community is being openly attacked in residential areas and in the central business district” – was contained in an internal memo circulated to senior ministry officials only.

A travel advisory is official advice from governments to their citizens, warning of specific dangers of travelling to certain countries. To issue a travel advisory is a major diplomatic decision, and can greatly complicate the relationship between the two countries concerned.

On the other hand, all countries routinely outline potential threats to government officials before sending them on official visits. While the Kenyan government may be concerned about crime in South Africa, South Africa would likely be just as concerned about the threat of terrorism in Kenya.

So, Kenyans, you’re still welcome to travel to South Africa – provided you can overcome the onerous visa process necessary to get here. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep a close eye on your wallet while you’re here.

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Simon Allison
Simon Allison
Simon Allison is the Africa editor of the Mail & Guardian, and the founding editor-in-chief of The Continent. He is a 2021 Young Africa Leadership Initiative fellow.

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