NAIROBI Collective Story

Photographs by Abu Mburu, Alessandro Didoni, Alfred Wango, Caleb Njoroge, Isaac Wambua, Manyunyu Benson,  Marco Leoncino, Otieno Nyadimo, Paul Mburu, Kesh Nthamba, Khalid Omar

As a megalopolis in constant movement and tenacious expansion, Nairobi is a founding city, whose developmental dynamics have been directly derived from the governing choices of the British colonial administration. Today the city – as the economic capital and strategic hub of East Africa, as well as the headquarters of the United Nations and the world’s most important multinationals – is still strongly characterised by the same system of urban, social, economic and political segregation and fragmentation inherited from colonialism. There are still ‘Europeans Only’ areas and areas exclusively inhabited by the African elite, gated communities with very low population densities which occupy about 90% of Nairobi’s residential land; while 60% of Nairobi’s population occupies 5% of the city’s surface area and lives crammed into informal settlements. In these poor densely populated areas there has not been adequate planning and distribution of services and primary infrastructure. They are randomly distributed and overcrowded residential pockets, in a context where the essentials are often lacking. The informal sector also generates almost 80% of Nairobi’s jobs, and there is currently a huge disproportion between the urbanisation of the city and its economic growth. This growth does not reach the lower classes of the population and does not cross the borders erected within the city. In order to survive the demographic pressure, Nairobi has to face daily challenges that affect the crucial nodes of development: food security, access to water, waste management, sanitation, and education. In this collective story, this photographers investigate the social, urban and anthropological nature of Nairobi.

Photograph by Abu MburuPhotograph by Alessandro DidoniPhotograph by Alessandro DidoniPhotograph by Alfred Wango
Photograph by Alfred WangoPhotograph by Khalid Omar Photograph by Khalid OmarPhotograph by Isaac WambuaWhen the first case of corona virus was announced on 12th march 2020 here in the densely crowded mathare neighborhood of Nairobi, a group of graffiti artists came together to create   coronavirus awareness that reaches people at their doorstep,using their art to pass on health advice. Photograph by Isaac WambuaMy cultural observatory journey and long-term documentation of underground hip-hop and rap music in Kenya began in early 2020 as I began photographing the 3-man underground hip-hop boyband known as Chaka Rappers. They’re based in Amboseli 46 – ‘46’ because this town neighbours Kawangware, one of Nairobi’s urban informal settlements, which is identified by area code number 46. Photograph by Kesh NthambaPhotograph by Kesh NthambaPhotograph by Otieno NyadimoDalla sua fondazione nel 2006, il programma della Napenda Kuishi Trust ha riabilitato e facilitato l´educazione di centinaia di teenager provenienti dalle baraccopoli di Korogocho, Dandora, Mathare, Kariobangi. Photograph by Marco Leoncino Photograph by Marco Leoncino

Ngash prepares to deliver four crates of sliced bread ,weighing 25 kgs ,on his shoulders in Kinoo village in Nairobi, Kenya.

Ngash makes a living from distributing bread from factories in Nairobi and it’s environs. Although COVID-19  pandemic plummeted his sales in Kinoo, Ngash returned to resume his livelihood, he hopes to buy a motorcycle with money he earns from selling bread. Photograph by Paul Mburu

A  30-seater matatu  (Kenyan Boy) making it’s way to the city from Kibera slums.  The mode of transport popular with the majority of Kenyans ,especially the slum dwellers is, the Matatu.  In Kenya matatu (known as mathree in Sheng) or matatus are privately owned minibuses, often decorated, many matatus feature portraits of famous people or slogans and sayings. Likewise, the music they play is also aimed at quickly attracting passengers. These minibuses ply set routes, run from termini, and are used for both inter- and intra-city travel. During a press conference held on Friday, March 20, held in Nairobi, Kenya’s Health cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe, laid down guidelines that were aimed at reducing congestion in the public service vehicles due to the containment of  the COVID -19 pandemic. 14-seater matatus will carry a maximum of eight passengers; 25-seater vehicles a maximum of 15 passengers, 30 seater vehicles and above to maintain a sixty per cent maximum of sitting capacity. Photograph by Paul Mburu

Youngsters at Udemy School in Thika had dashed for lunch break. Momentarily, we’d find ourselves mobbed by mini league team. Each had their own interest, but they all shared a restless curiosity. Photograph by Caleb Njoroge In Nairobi, she learned, the most important thing is to learn to walk. Luckily, she had walked all her life. She would have wanted to do it her own way, but there was only one way to do it right. One step at a time. Photograph by Caleb NjorogePhotograph by Manyunyu BensonPhotograph by Manyunyu Benson