1. Tell us about the name, Distant Relatives.
It is named after the Nas and Damian Marley album, embodying the intentions of the place. This is where distant relatives from different backgrounds and culture, races, religion, can find a space to come together. It’s literally a place to meet your distant relatives.
2. What was the inspiration behind its establishment?
The Ecolodge was set up five years ago by two travellers; one French guy called Romain Angelo Mari and Thomas Atkinson the co-founder who is a mix of Zimbabwean and Australian. Both loved travelling and when they came to Kilifi, they couldn’t help, but fall in love with the place.
In addition, at that time there was not much business for tourism in Kilifi. Distant relatives was built with a lot of environmental consciousness, which is one of the founding pillars.
The second guiding principle is that the place is built in a space of love where everyone feels welcome. It’s not a high-end luxury resort, but we still have different people coming here for lunch, or music.
The bottom line is not to chase after huge profits, but rather to be environmentally conscious, unite people from all races and create a space where people can learn more about each other.
Our third guiding principle is partnering with the local guides, captains, farmers, motorcycle and taxi drivers and others, therefore enhancing our local economy.
3. How have your life experiences trained you for the task as the general manager of the ecolodge?
I studied Social Thought and Political Economy in the University of Massachusetts. It combined international relations, economics, and politics.
The course churns out people who do grassroot work or politics, but for me everything that I learnt there has been a huge part of my life skills and my understanding of how a global or local community operates.
I originally planned to come back for three months and then leave, but ended up staying and got a job managing Peponi Hotel in Lamu. My dream is not simply about hotel management. What I dois combine my interests in social activism, working and meeting different people.
Lamu is unique in its culture, architecture, heritage, community, and environment. From the island around it to the island itself. I feel that it is often misrepresented due to unrest in different areas of the county, but Lamu town and the island archipelago is one of the safest and the most beautiful places in the world.