- Posted by Nelson Tumwesigye
- On August 20, 2014
- 0 Comments
Dark tourism refers to trips to sites of episode of human violence. It is a visit to the sites of murder and places of past horror. For example Visits to the furnaces of Auschwitz, the killing fields of Cambodia, the area surrounding Chernobyl, National September 11th Memorial & Museum and the visit to the Genocide memorial in Rwanda.
The term Dar Tourism was first used by British scholars John Lennon and Malcolm Foley, when they wrote their book titled ‘Dark Tourism: The Attraction of Death and Disaster’, that was later published in 2000. After a dozen of years, the University of Central Lancashire, located in Northern England, launched the Institute for Dark Tourism Research, a first academic center -of-its-kind headed by Philip Stone, who has a doctorate in Thanatology (the study of death) and previously worked in the tourism industry. Stone describes Dark tourism as commercialization of death.
During July 1861, several sightseers could pack picnic baskets before heading out to witness one of the earlier battles of the American Civil War. What sets Dark Tourism apart as something new, however, is the tourism industry’s packaging and marketing of such places.
Last year on Halloween, The Guardian published an article exploring the growing trend of people visiting murder sites and places of past horror where they mentioned a new tour to the home of 1980s’ California serial killer, Dorothea Puente, who buried her victims in her yard, both front and back.
Of recent, Dark tourism is on a steady rise as nations are going ahead to gazette dark tourism sites to tap the growing influx of travelers across the globe. There are now established locations near the Syrian-Israeli border where visitors gather to glimpse a piece of the action, the killings and clashes between the two conflicting sides.
Some people have wondered whether dark tourism is really necessary since it may portray a negative image to the community. Could it be that people are making money from the death and suffering of others?, which image would it give to the survivors or those who lost their loved ones?.
Such questions need to be addressed such that the community well understands its impact and intention. Dark tourism, like any other tourism product definitely earns revenue for a country but also helps in benefiting those who are still faced will the effects of the past horror through direct employment as guides as well as revenue sharing from government. Dark tourism also helps in educating and reminding the people about the past incidences of human torture such that people can guard against the similar actions from happening again after understanding their real effect. People may not understand the magnitude and the impact of certain incidences if they are not shown the real effects of that incidence.
Uganda has a number of sites of past human horror which have not been given enough attention. The Luwero triangle massacres of early 1980s caused by the conflict between Obote’s regime and the NRA rebels, where the government soldiers are alleged to have employed the scorched earth policy and burnt down villages in search for the rebels, is one of the unforgettable sites where thousands were sent to their graves. The skulls were collected and lined along the road for commemoration and this can be well marketed for dark tourism.
The Kibweetere slaughter in Kanungu where a self proclaimed prophet, Joseph Kibweetere locked his followers in a church and sent them a blaze in 2000, is an ideal site for development and marketing as a remarkable dark tourism site. Several sites of human violence in the Northern and Eastern parts of the country emanating from the long conflict between the government and the LRA rebels have been given less attention but could be great dark tourism sites helping the survivors to recover from the tragedies if they are promoted for tourism.