Lupita Nyong’o was on Tuesday named a global elephant ambassador as she appeared in public for the first time in Kenya since she won an Oscar.
This is the first homecoming tour by the actress, who won the movie industry’s top award for her role in 12 Years a Slave last year.
At a press conference at the Villa Rosa Kempinski, Lupita met with conservationists, the business community and the press and gave a stirring speech urging everyone to fight poaching.
Lupita said she was proud to be Kenyan and was honoured to become a global ambassador for the elephants.
“I am proud of my Kenyan heritage and part of that heritage is the incredible wildlife haven that we have,” she said.
“Let us begin to learn more, know more and do more to save the elephant.”
The actress, who spent the past few days in Amboseli with the Amboseli Trust for Elephants and at the David Sheldrick elephant orphanage, also urged Kenyans to visit national parks.
“There is nothing like visiting a national park. I have come to realise that when you know more you are compelled to do more. I want to encourage everyone to learn more about these incredible animals. Did you know elephants travel in families led by the matriarch and each elephant has unique features and a distinct character?” she posed. “Or that an elephant is poached every 15 minutes?”
At the event, Lupita got to meet Ali Kiba, a bongo flava artiste who has been tapped as the Tanzanian ambassador for the elephants.
Ali Kiba said he was looking forward to working with Lupita as they use their influence to eradicate poaching.
He said he was moved by his experience at the David Shedrick orphanage, where he saw elephant calves who had lost their families to poachers and was happy to be able to speak for them.
“We have visited the orphaned elephants and they are as loving as they are forgiving for we have wronged them. But they have forgiven us.”
COST OF POACHING
Lupita noted that a live elephant was worth more to the economy than a dead one.
“I have learnt that an elephant kept alive is worth a million dollars for the economy. But a poacher will only earn a few thousands for a few people,” Lupita said.
Her homecoming tour is supported by prominent local companies, whose representatives said she is an excellent ambassador for the country.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario said the film and the creative arts industry can become a key driver of the economy and promised to work on a Bill to ensure artistes get what they deserve.
He also said the government was working to make the country an attractive film-making destination and was actively wooing Hollywood to shoot movies in Kenya.
“We are following the telling of Richard Leakey’s story in the upcoming movie Africa, which involves Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and we have a promise from them that the film will be shot mostly in Kenya.”
Alluding to Lupita’s early days in theatre, he said the Kenya National Theatre was now the best theatre in the region.
“It is now a state-of-the-art facility after its Sh150 million facelift. We will also establish a talent academy in the next year.”
Wario said they were in talks with the LA Film School to help with the curriculum.
Villa Rosa Kempinski managing director Manish Nambar said Kenya offered one of the best authentic safari experiences as well as providing jobs for Kenyans. He said tourism could not survive without our wildlife.
Ms Sylvia Mulinge, who spoke on behalf of Safaricom, which has concluded the Lewa marathon that raises funds for conservation, said the mobile telecommunications firm would amplify the cause further.
Source: Daily Nation