Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Deep Sea and the Depths of Poverty in Nairobi

The first time I heard of Deep Sea slums was when my sister and a group of fellow nurses visited the slum as part of their social work way back in 2009...I guess it was 2009.

She narrated tales of the slum and ended her story with "Kibera must be 100 times better than what we saw".

Deep Sea is sandwiched between fences of affluence literally the slum begins in between fences of rich homes. It is just in between Parklands and Limuru Road.

Many of the residents single mothers do laundry in these homesteads for their upkeep. They leave behind toddlers to be taken care of by an elderly lady and they leave her with what they can and many times with nothing.

During my sister's visit to the slum the only attempt at sanitation was an attempt by a religious congregation of priests the Consolata Fathers to put up a sanitation block which the residents could take a bath and use the toilet for a shilling - many of them could not afford this one shilling but to make the service free would encourage irresponsibility. The priests also had a clinic and a school right in the heart of the slum.

Everywhere the slum told the story of an environmental hazard... signs of children with diarrhoea and cholera and adults with visible symptoms of being afflicted with AIDS (clearly they were not on ARVs or if they were their diet was nonexistent).

My sister and her colleagues visited twice more the second time to take foodstuff to the lady who took care of infants and toddlers.

I largely forgot about Deep Sea until this week when I saw an article by Amnesty International about planned evictions of the slum to pave way for a road.

I am not anti-development but I would rather the government took all the funds given to them by the EU for this road and misappropriated the money to give these people a humane life...at the very least the children born to women in this slum or the women who are mothers in this slum

Then again maybe our government is very conscientious and would not want to misappropriate money given for a road to other uses - then would it be too much to beg that part of the road budget be the cost of resettling residents of Deep Sea in a place where their children would know that toilets are not found only in the books their teacher reads to them... resettling them in a place where they would understand that the rest of the world does not wake up to the leaking sewerage from their neighbours and that there is such a thing as colorless water.

Would it be too much to beg that as much force and manpower that has been used in evictions be used in building these people a place to call home?

Would it be too much to beg my friends the affluent neighbours of Deep Sea to petition the government on behalf of their clothing launderers?

Maybe we can't change the world but would it be too much to ask all of us to start caring about the world?

At the very least if you read this please help by supporting Amnesty.org intervention on behalf of Deep Sea here http://www.amnesty.org/en/appeals-for-action/end-forced-evictions

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Consumer Information Should Become a Human Right - Right 32 Right To the Truth

I think the most difficult thing to do in life right now is to become ascetic.

Our world is powered by such a consumer culture that there is almost now way out for any of us.

Advertising will tell us what is sexy, what is not, what to eat, what to wear, where to go to have fun, whether it is fun at all, how to date, how to make love, how to have a great wedding, what is a great wedding, who is a good mother, what does an awesome boss look like, how to be an awesome boss, what to drive, what to ride.

I am not saying adverts are bad. I just think we are being bombarded with too much of it as opposed to actual facts on the products.

E.g. If Beats by Dre tells me their headphones are now sexier and give me an intimate, emotional experience. After Prime News I should have my local Consumer Association analyse all adverts for the day and tell me - If I wasn't sexy before I bought Beats - I won't be sexy after I buy them and if what I am listening to isn't intimate and personal then the headphones won't make it any more intimate than it is.
Beats by Dre

If Johnnie Walker tells me to keep walking - I would like my consumer association to get some Airplay to tell me if I take too much of it then walking might become a difficult task
Johnnie Walker - Keep walking

If Victoria Secret tells me that Lingerie is sexy after dark - I would like my Consumer Association to get airplay to tell me that I am sexy not the lingerie. Sexy-me wears the lingerie NOT sexy lingerie makes the not-so-attractive me Sexy.
Victoria's Secret

If my favorite cosmetic producers tell me that their product makes my skin fair in two weeks. My consumer association gets airplay to tell me that the claim has not been scientifically tested. If my cosmetic producer runs an advert showing me getting the job of my dreams due to my fair skin, my Consumer Association gets airplay to tell me that my CV also needs to look good to nail the job and dark skins have as good a chance at it.

I don't think anyone will heed my plea - oh well. Anyway if you didn't know what rights exist out there... enjoy the video below on the 30 Articles of Human Rights

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


I just watched the first episode of Bend Your Head TV - a Kenyan comedy show that pokes fun at ourselves.

I laughed but at the same time I had a good think. I laughed at the M-hongo cops but at the same time I thought of how corruption is so endemic that we are tempted to think - no haikuwa hongo alinisaidia tu na nikampa kitu kidogo - ni kusaidiana.

Translate - It wasn't a bribe the officer helped me out of my fix and I just gave back something to say thank you.

Bend your head made me think about our media - they do a good job at times but many times they aren't Media they become Medio"crity".
TV and media are our largest shapers of culture, perceptions, opinions, beliefs. On average every Kenyan is spending way more hours in front of the TV set; way more hours discussing what they saw on TV, heard on radio, saw in the paper than in their work, studying, hobbies, church or even on their relationships.
What is trending on Facebook, twitter in Kenya starts first either in paper, radio and TV.

But there is no Kenyan who critically thinks of their consumption - we are passive recipients. Who says we will not buy "Monkey Ball" Bites. Who says if Jay Z and Rihanna sport Illumi-natty I won't sport them.

But all my thoughts aside Bend Your Head TV are what comedy is supposed to be - to help us laugh at ourselves, our culture, our perceptions.

About Me

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Loving life and living it. “Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.” (Mary Anne Radmacher)
Give yourself completely in everything for that is love and only when we love can we find God.