Tuesday, February 13, 2007

saturday afternoon in kibera

i went to kibera, the largest slum in africa, on the weekend for a gender-based violence event.

i am not sure exactly where to start. i have been in townships in south africa, impoverished communities in mexico and central america, towns without plumbing or electricity in ghana, but this urban settlement was like nothing i had seen before.

it is enormous. just when i thought it would end, there was more. more open sewage, more homes, more shops, more people, more unmarked roads...

i was left feeling guilty for having so much crap that i think i need (this seems to be a recurring thought) and overwhelmed with all that needs to be done to alleviate the levels of poverty that the residents of kibera live in.

the event was great, i am glad that i went just to see the dance competition of the local kids. a little girl who couldn't have been more than 3 years old won and there was no stopping her when the music started and she got into her groove. it made me realise that canadians are not brought up to move to like that. because rhythm and movement like that cannot be taught, they are just acquired and absorbed.

i wanted to take my camera out so badly and take photos of the place and its people. especially the kids that all yell, 'hello, how are you?' or 'mzungu' as you drive by. but my colleague at work was telling me how it is a bit of a running joke that the westerners come to kibera with their camera and treat the people like they are animals in a zoo so i kept it in my purse and just took these photos off the internet. it is a fascinating place and i hope i have the opportunity to go back.
and it really is just a few km's from where i live.


riena said...

We all need an "eye opener" like that once in a while, to appreciate what we have. Trouble is we tend to forget not long after we leave such a place.

Joy said...

I read your last post about the party, and it sounds like an amazingly fun time. However, I felt like I needed to comment on this topic more. I feel as though I am forgetting what I saw in South Africa. Not as though my memories aren't still vivid, but I am surrounded by a different life here which makes me also wonder often why I have so many "things" in my life when most survive with nothing.
There is no point here. Just a note saying you are not alone.