Little children of Nubian descent, playing along a clear streaming river, in the thick of a forest vibrant with, tree and earth scented air. Their dark skin, channeling in the streaks of faint Sun rays, giving them and all living things around them, life.
The remnants of its forest past spirit still are still alive in the soil, and confined in mud bricked houses slowly , now widely morphed into rusted iron sheets and more permeable concrete structures.
I ended up here, by the fortune of necessity, just to learn there was nothing unfortunate about it. At least for me, I was on a spiritual journey. The other 2.6 million, face their own fates tied to their own circumstances, many of whom doing the best they can, often believing that the power of politicians will save them half their trouble of , the mass inequality between those who have and have not. In one of the highest taxed nations in the world, could explain the maintenance of religious faith, to cope with it all.
On arrival, like the many ignorant, I couldn’t understand how such a cramped place, could have different area addresses, it’s back door entrance didn’t even have an honorable entry point, by a beautiful highway just to, lethally crossover besides a sketchy bridge.
As a newbie, I came in with an entourage of 3 men, one who I can’t remember. One being a, shoeless companion/low-key bodyguard. Carrying a water jerican for his hustle game was constant. And another, a sweet functioning alcoholic , carrying my bags & guiding my steps making everyone know I was his cousin from America, for protection of jealousy & curiosity until I got to my Rastafarian friends home.
I had no idea I trekked up to couch surf, in one of the most dangerous parts of Kibera apparently, Katiokera (scold for spelling if wrong) meaning roots, in Kikuyu. I now lived right next to a bar, with customers clearly not observing closing time ethos . Dholou people, love their music loud enough for the dead to hear.
But it also turned out, a lot of the blasting music, was played on & off by different people to signify the death of someone, the reverse of natural thunder or lightening seen in their province of origin, when one passes on. I kind of liked that custom though, it beat the outright dramatic graveside mourning antiques.(I should know, I’m Luo).
The other differences I met, that I was not used to, coming from a suburbia background (kind of, long story) was; neighbors, actually coming by to borrow sugar. Communal parenting of children & being able to get a whole meal at 40 shillings: less than a dollar.
Also, the real icing on the, ‘you ain’t tricking if you ain’t got it’ cake, the little luxuries in life like, hot showers and toilet all at the fee of 5 Bob, separately mostly.
I could see how even wealthy people, could be content enough to stay here. Only based on, affordability.
Beyond that? No one here is hiding behind a big range rover and Nike sneakers. People at the said systems bottom, are straight up real. (Also just really, like a typical African Village) I’d see real love, real conflict, real avoidance, & real communal policing 24/7. And thankfully, convos of substance on, Ghetto radio fm as opposed to, Classic fm.
I’d meet philosophers who never graced a lecture hall, a director of a widely known NGO who happens to be Caucasian and American, who’s lived there for years. And a man who could talk down a gun raged individual, unarmed, in true Mohammed Ali spirit, in a widely know bar/hotel, Green Hut.
In the end of my on and off stays in this slum, I'”ve come to learn a lot of what I was raised to believe was mostly false. Kenya is a country where, it’s classes , races and tribes rarely mix, lest they catch the lack of another or draw to themselves jealousy to their wealth materially, or immaterially.
Almost all nomads from somewhere, being lead by people in high states often drunk, in their pride, greed, corruption and self righteousness. For the good are immortalized in history, but who’s guidance often forgotten & presence not honored.
The absence of things, does not make one poor. What real poverty is, is solely placing your worth in appearances & things, a vice eating up the middle class and upper class of the city & country with the evolution of a more open market & a middle income economy.
In Kibera at least, you get a taste of what it means to come from the birthplace of mankind, you just need to look beyond the iron sheets, and on the people on the street. From dope boys at every corner, to mamas selling chapatis. You will feel it, and you will feel at home.
That’s if you have an open mind-
(Stay hooked, for more nomad adventures)