Kenya : The Toughest Slums on Earth

NAIROBI — They tell you ‘peace’, but you know you are living in a warzone. You know it from the start; you’ve sensed it ever since you were a very little boy or a girl. You wake up every morning, not certain whether you will witness another dusk, whether you will experience another sunrise.

A bullet can hit you at any moment while you are walking down the road. If you are a woman, you can be ambushed and dragged into a dark back alley or filthy shack along the way, then raped.

The police are very hard to find, and are hopelessly corrupt. You prefer not to seek their ‘assistance’. You are really on your own: you own no gun, you don’t belong to a gang, and you are extremely poor.

You are exposed.

Around where you live, there are bullets flying and fires burning. Once in a while a gasoline truck explodes, or an entire gangway of some miserable hovels bursts into flames. Loud salvos of sub-machine guns often penetrate the night.

But they tell you ‘peace’. Europeans and North Americans, all those people that are making great incomes running their countless workshops in your dilapidated villages and towns… They are talking about ‘teaching you’ and your fellow slum-dwellers. They are talking about educating you, so that you can continue ‘living in peace’.

The companies and Governments of these ‘noble men and women’, those that are teaching you about peace, are all over your bleeding country. They even use it as a base to invade neighboring lands. They are actually doing many things, while you are eating shit. Well, maybe not literally, but stuff that you aliment yourself on is not really much better.

You have no access to clean water. You stink. If you are a man, you stink. If you are a woman, you are dying from shame, but there is no escape: you stink as well. Chances are you are functionally illiterate. Maybe you can read a few separate words, but the meaning mostly escapes you.

You vote for those who are offering you more ‘bob’, and then you feel proud when you are told, again and again, that you live in a flourishing democracy.

You scream at night. Not every night, of course, but most nights you scream. You are considering ending it all, you often wish you could die, to depart from this world, but you do not dare to kill yourself.

The more desperate you get, the more you are being told that you live in a ‘peaceful’ country. While everyone actually knows that you live in one of the biggest slums on earth.

You don’t resist. Foreign governments and companies hail you. You are their favorite subject. You are patient and submissive, as almost all people around you are. They kill each other instead of those who drag them into misery: foreign colonialists as well as local elites.

You are constantly publicized as a good example to others, all over the world, especially to those who are opting to fight for justice, dignity and a better society.

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Author: Andre Vltchek
First published on Dissident Voice on 24 May 2013