The Beat of Kibera

It was only when I heard Collins outburst of laughter followed by a very hilariously-serious “are you crazy?!” that I had a hint of hesitation. I had met Collins thru a Cabin Crew Colleague of mine. Collins used to fly for Etihad, but was now back in Kenya – I had decided to ask my Kenyan Colleagues if they had a contact for me in Kenya that could show me around, as I had always wanted to visit Kenya but had heard that it is not particularly safe especially for a blond haired foreigner that knew nothing of it.

I had spent the majority of my time in Kenya, Masai Mara on Safari, as I travelled on my off days from work, something all flight attendants try to make the most of as they are very limited. I was blessed to be able to go on Safari by myself, the guides were very accommodating and allowed me to move around and stop for extended periods of time which would not have happened if I was part of a tour group. Safari snaps to come….

So on my first day in Kenya – sitting in Collins’ car staring at him having his fit of laughter, he once again made a statement “do you want to get killed?” – all of this was of course due to me asking if he would take me to Kibera, a slum, a city of souls known in Nairobi for its poverty and dirt. But despite his efforts to stop me, soon we were on our way. Upon arriving there he spoke to a local Kiberan and the man offered to show us around, for a fee of course, nonetheless paid with respect to the man as I fear without a local by our side we would most definitely run into trouble.

The Kiberan man and Collins chatted in the back ground and soon I was sucked into a world of absolute purity, color and freedom……Welcome to Kibera…….

The first pictures were of course of children, it always is. The innocence of these children made me lose all consciousness of the possible danger around me.

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On our walk I came across this woman. Tending to her beauty needs as all women do, this reminded me that people are people, we do the things we do. A woman in Kibera is no different to a woman in a high rise apartment in New York City, woman all want to be beautiful, all woman are beautiful. This was my photograph of the day.

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One thing that I found fascinating was how organized everything was. If the word slum is mentioned in conversation, one immediately assumes complete chaos and lawlessness. There where children going to school building a future, woman running their beauty shops making money, men replacing tires to making sure everyone will get to where they are going. Kibera is a home for these people, a spider web of life, a integrated society, what I experienced could only be described as a beat…a heart beat perhaps or just plainly the beat of Kibera.

I was not allowed to move too deeply into Kibera, I was told by the local man that they had different “address or area codes and he was only comfortable showing me the current area we where in, as moving any further would be dangerous and control would be even out of his hands.

Here are more of my favourite Kibera beats,

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I snapped this image of this beautiful young girl, after I had given her a lollie from my stack of candies for the children, a habit I have had ever since I decide to photograph rural areas – it was a innocent and pure reaction that I am truly blessed I caught, a child reacting to a lollipop like this, I have never seen before. Pure innocence and happiness, bliss, appreciation?

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This girl is an aspiring model and gave me her best pose.

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The State of Kenya provided government housing for these people and although they had attempted building new lives there it did not become home, thus they where pulled back to Kibera, the slum, where they have the freedom and unity they feel they deserve. Ironic, perhaps, real and true, definitely.

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