9/10/2011

In the Hood


Nairobi has more than its fair share of slums, including Kibera, said to be Africa's largest. One imagines that worldwide only Asian megalopolises like Jakarta, Dhaka or Mumbai can compete in terms of sheer acreage of shantytown. Life is grim here, with up to a dozen family members packed into a single dirt-walled shed. Open rivulets of sewage stream down narrow trails between rows of houses. When it rains these turn into foul raging rivers of mud and filth, eroding away the base of the houses. An utter lack of security and civil services mean most people are afraid to venture out at night for the dangerous trek to the latrines. Such toilet blocks, where there are any, can be hundreds of yards from the house, and serve hundreds of families, but getting to one in the dark invites rape and abuse. The result is the notorious "flying toilet": urgent nocturnal movements are deposited into plastic bags which are then flung randomly over the corrugated tin rooftops at dawn. The price of staple starches, like maize and cassava flour, has more than doubled in recent years. But life, commerce and community still manage to cling on. Vendors line the wider mud avenues selling vegetables, charcoal and chapatis, and music booms out of the rum shops, including, at the top of the last photograph here, the "Obama Busaa Club".









3 comments:

Miss Anne Thrope said...

BBC reporting "Kenya fire: Nairobi pipeline blaze kills 100" RU OK

They say it's a cold world said...

What a gruesome accident. As far as my personal safety, thanks for thinking of me, I am absolutely fine, and in fact flew home from Nairobi yesterday. Flying on Sept. 11th had its own worries, but all was well. The pipeline fire happened in a slum known as Sinai. I'm not sure where that is, exactly, but Nairobi is sadly full of shantytowns. We were working primarily in Kibera and Mathare. Having seen the ridiculously overcrowded conditions I'm tragically certain the pipeline explosion will have ended many lives.

Anonymous said...

Ah..diary of a rich kid.