Lucia has something to say

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Kibera Slum

A couple of things came together today that made me think about the Kibera slum in Nairobi that I visited a couple of weeks ago. First, I watched The Constant Gardener last night and part of it was filmed in Kibera, which I can scarcely imagine given the crime and logistics. Second, I listened to an online radio clip "Slum Tours: Insight or Voyeurism?" There are now organized tours to slums in Mumbai, India, (where I have been) and favelas in Brazil (where I haven't). In most cases, a good portion of the income from the tours goes to social programs for people living in the slums (which it should).

Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi. There are about 700,000 people living in crowded corrugated tin or mud houses. Some have small businesses selling fruit and vegetables, or charcoal, or repairing shoes, or showing videos at set times, so people can go see them like they would a movie in a theater. Others work in service positions--as cooks and gardeners and house cleaners. Even more are unemployed.

It's hard to imagine anyone living here. The streets are narrow and it's dirty. There's trash everywhere. Waste water runs in narrow troughs at the side of the road. The lack of sanitation and the lack of potable water makes for a conditions that are difficult to imagine.

Why do people have to live like this?


Blogger Lynnea said...

Man I wish there was an answer to that one. It sure makes a soul consider how much we have that we never even notice. I saw huts in Cancun just outside resort territory that made me think about poverty and how wretched it is. And the people in Cancun would most likely be considered rich by the people you picture here. So tragic.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Lucia said...

Maggie: The one time I was in Cancun (on my way to Cuba), I hated it. It's beautiful. I didn't actually hate the place...the gorgeous water and stretch of sand, but what it's been built into. I wound up asking the cleaning people at the hotel where they ate (because I wanted real Mexican food), and they gave me complicated directions to the edge of town where they live. Sure enough, there was a "normal" Mexican restaurant (which I greatly enjoyed).

5:44 AM  
Blogger Stephen Newton said...

Lucia, I'm so glad you stopped by my blog or else I wouldn't have discovered yours. Great reading and it looks like you have a very cool job indeed. Yes, I was shocked as well when Dylan was hunkering through those Victoria's Secret spots. A friend of mine who was a great commercial jingle writer/musician is now a pharmaceutical copywriter because agencies have been using our rock and roll music for commercial soundtracks. Living or dead, it must be easy to sell our souls for a buck.

Like Maggie said, your question is a tough one. But I suspect that people live like they must because part of the world has everything and gives the rest of it just enough to get by. In ancient times, whole civilizations were wiped up due to extreme conditions, wars, etc. Today, we interfer with geopolitical dynamics to the point where we've set up the expectation that everyone must survive, but hardly make that a reality.

6:47 AM  
Blogger pei wei said...

wow - well said stephen.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My life seems pretty darn trivial in comparison.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

That's awful... No one should have to live like that. And with no means to better their situation, their children and children's children are doomed to the same fate.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Susan as Herself said...

Every time I see photos or something on TV that shows deplorable conditions like that I stop in my tracks. Human beings should have conquered that challenge by now. It floors me that so much of humanity lives like animals---literally. Sad.

1:18 PM  
Blogger meno said...

I think there have been slums for a long time in history. But i wish i knew why and what to do about it.

I've gone to Mexico a few times, once at a fancy resort as the guest of the Mister's work. I always investigate places where i am not supposed to go, and i found the slums, which were right outside the resort, and an easy source of labor, to be so saddening that it was hard to be all festive and ugly American while at the resort.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These pictures remind me of the circumstances that seemed to quickly encompass the stadium where people sought shelter from the flooding in Louisianna...trash and waste everywhere. It leaves me scratching my head wondering why this group of people can't "organize themselves". Put the trash in 1 place - use their intelligence to find solutions to the water / waste issues. I just can't help but wonder how much of this is their own laziness...their own lack of taking initiative to HELP THEMSELVES. ???

11:21 PM  

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