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A Positive Vision of Kibera

Link to full document: A positive visione of Kibera's slum
In May 2018, while we were in Nairobi, my son Enea visited Kibera, the biggest slum of Nairobi and Africa, actually, housing more than 300’000 people. He found the tour very informative and received a different perception of Kibera. He encouraged me to also visit it, with the assistance of Kibera Tours, a group of young and very professional residents of Kibera that organise tourist tours. I had taken a look at images of Kibera on the Internet and must admit that I wasn’t really that interested, but then I came across a report of The economist of 2012, that stated “Kibera may be the most entrepreneurial place on the planet”.

I have dedicated my life to helping enterprising people succeed, so I decided to take the tour. Visiting Kibera has given me a different image and a positive feeling about people and their entrepreneurship. It has been an mind-blowing experience for me to witness such a pulsing local economy, made of thousands of small shops and other business-oriented activities. We also had a chance to meet and stay in contact with some interesting people.

What impressed me, was the huge difference between the information available online and Kibera’s actual reality. Representations, made available via Google, focus mostly on the negative aspects. Visiting Kibera, I discovered so many encouraging things. I did a search on Internet about the positive aspects of slums, but I did not come across any document listing them. I had no prior knowledge of slums, as such. Despite this, I decided to put my impressions to word, considering my total lack of information as a plus, as it freed me from any prejudice. I started to organise and gather my thoughts in writing. What follows is a summary of positive aspects that I found in Kibera:

  • Kibera is a settlement of lower income people and not of poor people. In Kibera, lower income individuals and families have access to many products and services that would not usually be available to them. It is the Kibera system that allows those low-income people to stay above the poverty line.
  • Kibera provides a home to many lower income people. Having your own, “stable” roof, even a very modest one, is a distinguishing value. The situation of Kibera residents is substantially better than that of the homeless people living in many cities.
  • Kibera is a very efficient economy, focused on providing products and services to lower income people. It is a very important part of the Nairobi’s economy and also provides a lot of business opportunities to many individuals.
  • Kibera is a social reach environment that offers a great deal of opportunities.
  • Kibera’s informal settlement, made mostly of corrugated iron sheets, is fascinating. It cannot be compared with any modern architecture but has a sort of artistic beauty, nevertheless.
  • Kibera is something that tourists ought to see. In modern terminology, one could argue, that Kibera represents a “brand”.