Sunday, 22 April 2007

Kibera Part III - The Terminator 2 and other stories

In the absense of real jobs, as unemployment rate in Kenya is around 40%, people create their own ways of making money. Some of them fascinating and worth sharing.

As the car was driving us to our next interview, we spotted a piece of carton with "The Terminator 2 - 2 pm" written on it by hand. We looked down and there was this slightly bigger corrigated iron house with big wide open double doors. Inside, a big plasma screen and a flashy new dvd player. Genius!

As we continued, we went to a slightly bigger home. The home of Dora, a single mum of 4. In her home we could see two beds separated by curtains, a dining table with a mobile phone on it, a small kitchen and a TV. She is a lucky person, as she says herself. She has a steady job and the means to support all 4 of her children. No husbands though. On her face, a few scars. Probably a few more in her heart.

Dora is a classic reflection of another interesting cultural nugget of Africa. "The need to shine for others" as she well put it herself. She said there are days that nor herself neither her children eat. That is so she can save money to buy a new mobile phone. A swanky Motorla Razr.

"but why?", I asked. "Because nobody can tell wether you've eaten or not. But everybody can tell the kind of person you are by your mobile phone."

Before leaving her home to escort us out of the Kibera, she paused, washed her hands and face and put Vaseline on. "but why?", I asked. "because my skin need to shine for others to see. If not they will think I'm a bad housewife, a bad mother. "

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