Local people making a change in Kibera

Fotografie di Samson Otieno

Kibera is Kenya’s biggest informal settlement, situated on the outskirts of the capital city Nairobi. Roughly one million people live in the settlement, forming one-fifth of Nairobi’s population. Poverty, crime, and disease have long dominated the narrative about this”Citi within a city”, with residents being portrayed as living a marginal and precarious life. While the challenges of life in Kibera cannot be denied, a new generation of local artists and change-makers are challenging the common biases against the community and its residents, offering a new and honest perspective through music, art photography, and social work.

Brian Otieno is a photojournalist born and raised in Kibera. Through his project Kibera stories, Brian challenges the traditional visual narrative and negative perception about his hometown. His project documents life in Kibera from a social-economic, cultural, political, and environmental point of view, as seen from an insider perspective. ” seen from afar, the neighborhood is a dense jungle of corrugated rooftop, indistinguishable huts huddled together and electricity poles projecting into the air. It holds the title of the”largest slum in Africa”. But Kibera is also a mix of diversity, talent, and capability”.

Vincent Otieno is a young bodybuilder who grew up in Kibera and developed a passion for fitness and a healthy lifestyle. He is inspiring youth in his neighborhood to stay away from crime and illicit activities by focusing on their health and well-being.

Slum going green and clean is a community-based organization founded in 2017 by Gisore Nyabuti. It started as a personal initiative to highlight the problem of environmental pollution in the slum. Having grown in Kibera all his life, Nyabuti saw a need to develop a solution that could address this problem in the community, while simultaneously promoting opportunity for social engagement for young people in the neighborhood. Slum going green and clean has grown to include 54 team members and works with hundreds of others to clean the environment and raise awareness on problems in the community such as open sewers and unauthorized dumpsites. “We plant food crops and fruit trees. We mobilize youths in the neighborhood, especially those with a criminal past, to join us on mass cleanup. We encourage the residents to take responsibility for caring for the environment and their health”.

Asha Jaffa is the founder of the initiative Kibera food drive, created in 2020 to fundraise to provide food for families in kibera who have been severely affected by lockdown and movement restrictions imposed by the government to curb the covid -19 outbreak. As most residents depend on casual work to survive, staying at home is a privilege they can not afford. Kibera food drive has distributed food to 3,500 families so far.

Daniel Owino is a local musician who goes by the artistic name Futwax. His music reflects the struggle and hope of his community: “it’s my duty to make sure that everyone knows what is happening and are doing what they can to stay safe and live in peace. We have to be our own solution”.

Art 360 is an art gallery located in the heart of Kibera, giving a creative platform to young independent artists from the neighborhood. The gallery was founded in 2019 by Faith Atieno, a young female painter, with the goal of identifying, nurturing, and marketing Young artists with a passion for arts and painting. Art 360 Is vocal in addressing issues that affect the community, such as economic inequality, extrajudicial killing, and political issues

David Avido is a local fashion designer known for his signature wax-prints bomber jacket. He has made custom designs for a variety of musicians and reggae stars such as a rising Jamaica Singer Kofee. In 2020 he embarked on a new mission: leading a team of 12, he produced free face masks for the local community, as protective measures against the novel coronavirus. So far, in partnership with community leaders, he has distributed about 10,000 masks.