I wasn’t terribly jet-lagged when I landed in Nairobi sometime midday. The weather was a lot cooler than I expected which made for a nice break from the humidity in Singapore. After checking into my guest house, I decided that I should explore the city a little and linked up with the Kibera Creative Arts and asked if I could do a walking tour in Kibera with them.
Kibera is made up of 13 different villages making it the largest slum in Nairobi and the largest urban slum in Africa. Most of the residents live in extreme poverty yet there is a family and community spirit within the slum.
Kibera Creative Arts (KiCA)
KiCA works with the community by implementing various art programs in which they hope will uplift the community, showing them that there is more to life than drugs. Children, in particular, can come to the centre to receive art education, such as music production, dance, or visual arts. They have minimal resources, mostly donated, and yet can do so much with them with a lot of success, as seen by the lowered crime and drug rates since they started their programs. I was very humbled by the organization’s can-do spirit, and hope for the younger children as they work towards a business model of sustainability.
I was brought to their dance and music production studio, where I taught them how to play a tune on the ukulele and gave my ideas on outcome harvesting, sustainability, and how to work towards it. I walked a ton and saw how just two walls separate Kibera from one of the most luxurious golf clubs in Nairobi, The Royal Nairobi Golf Club. This stark inequality extends to a highway that separates the slum from an upscale neighbourhood. It seems to be an ongoing story that while Kibera’s surroundings undergoes development, the slum itself remains as the elephant in the room.
I also had chapatti (like the Indian Prata) in possibly the oldest hotel (they call restaurants ‘hotels’ even though there are no actual rooms in which you can stay because I just might get this wrong — the word ‘hotel’ is easier to pronounce than ‘restaurant’ for non-English native speakers and since you generally have restaurants in hotels, the word hotel to describe a restaurant stuck) in the slum. I was also offered some sort of grass that if consumed in large amounts, makes you high. No prizes for guessing what I did much to the amusement to the locals.
The Kibera I witnessed was very different from the one that I had read in the news. I was even introduced to a lovely lady with barely any fingers who was so excited that I came to visit Kibera and her shop where she makes handmade items out of beads, she gave me a gorgeous keychain that she made.
I would highly recommend everyone to take a walking tour with one of the non-profit organizations based in Kibera and have a look at a different side of the slum for yourself.
Karibu means Welcome in Kiswahili; this word followed me everywhere I turned in Kenya and it is a wonderful word to introduce you to the gorgeous people and colours in Kibera.
Categories: Photo Essay, Kenya
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