No Idling - Kenya
Nearly half of Nairobi, Kenya’s three million residents live in one of over 60 ‘informal settlements’. The neighbourhood of Kibera, originally settled by a group called the Nubians in 1904, is one of the largest informal urban communities in the world. Infrastructure and services, including water, sanitation, electricity, health services, education, and law enforcement are lacking, making Kibera a difficult place for people to live in. The lack of employment opportunities and thereby resources, often leads to people having no choice but to 'idle' or pass time, waiting for any semblance of opportunity.
Stepping into Kibera for the first time I was immediately fascinated by the ingenuity of its residents. Kiberans are masters at overcoming adversity through resourcefulness, creativity and by placing an unprecedented value on the role of community in individual survival. Mike Davis from Planet of Slums says it best; “Out of unhealthy, crowded and often dangerous environments can emerge cultural movements and levels of solidarity unknown in the suburbs of the rich”.
Through this work I hope to celebrate these amazingly resilient people. The conditions of poverty in Kibera prevent most from attaining what people in developed countries would rate as acceptable standards of living but the disadvantages do not stop them. The energy, talent and ingenuity, of young people in Kibera, an environment that presents so many obstacles, especially inspire me.
All but a few photographs (from 2013) were made between March and April of 2014. Images from 2014 were made possible with the help of the Toronto Arts Council.
A man stands looking out on to Kibera from the railway line that runs through the informal settlement and doubles as a main pedestrian passage.
Jane Wambui dusts products in front of her shop by the railway in the Laini Saba area.
A boy looks outward of the tiny kitchen of the St. Batholomew Nursery and Preschool.
Children form a 'Kiberan vehicle', in this case a 'train', as they play in a street.
A man named Yusuf stands in front of his shop.
A young man sits in the room where he runs an arcade for young people. Above him spray-painted on the wall is the commonly seen message instructing people of 'no idling'.
A young man collects water in a jug during a downpour in the village of Lindi in the informal settlements of Kibera.
Samina P Wacasey.
Shem Kiyaka Mogaka.
Children and a teacher in a primary school classroom in the village of Makina.
Seventy-five-year-old Ismail Hassan Bhai holds out a lit match as one of his young neighbours, one-and-a-half-year-old Raymond, looks on.
A woman walks by as a young girl smiles into the camera.
Children entertain themselves with Playstation games at an arcade.
Singer Abrah Bino directs a remote control at a television in the living room of a home.
Juma Abdullah sits at his desk in the tiny office where he runs his organization called the Needy Kids Foundation along the main ring road around Kibera.
Singer Abrah Bino, shows his six-month-old daughter Zyion something on his cellphone at his mother's home.
An artist named Mahmoud, aka Mudu, paints on the entrance of a hair salon on Karanja Street.
Bade Isaac Aluoch.
Artist Brian Otiz uses a refrigerator as a cabinet for storing his work, photographs, and other files, in his room at home.
Three young women react as they watch music videos at a home in the Makina village.
A man named Junior stands at the counter of his friend Silas's (on the right of the frame) beauty shop in the village of Lindi.
Along a paved road in the village of Makina a young man peels potatoes in front of a furniture shop as two children play nearby.
A young man resurfaces the mud wall of a residential house in the village of Makina. A man he was working with all day looks on as a child stands nearby.
Men dance in the streets during a Christian religious event on a Sunday along a busy pedestrian route.
Boxers train at the Joseph Kangethe Boys Rehabilitation Centre as part of the Omar Kasongo Sports Academy program in Kibera.
Along the main road in the informal settlements of Kibera a man named Edmond Mogitu pauses as he tends to kale grown in a public garden set up by the Kibra Junction Youth Group he founded.
A child does a back flip during an informal game of soccer.