When most people hear the word slum, they imagine a place unsuitable for humans to live, raw sewage running down the streets, flying toilets, and tiny homes with rusty roofs crammed together. These images are all true, as can be seen any time one googles “urban slum photos.” What people don’t imagine is a “hotbed of innovation,” which was how a youth from Kibera described his home in a video he made for a TED talk, broadcast live from Oxford on July 15th, 2010. For those unfamiliar with TED- Technology, Entertainment, Design- the nonprofit is dedicated to the spread of cutting edge ideas, holding various conferences featuring talks by some of the most innovative people today. Chris Anderson, TED curator, gave a talk on the phenomenon of Internet video in the proliferation of new ideas, showing the video made by local Kibera youth. After the video, the camera cut to the audience in Nairobi watching the broadcast, of which I was lucky enough to be a member.
How I became familiar with all this was the discovery of a new movie made about Kibera, in Kibera, with local actors and local musicians. It’s called Togetherness Supreme, and it has been screening in the Nairobi slums for the past few months. It is not yet available on DVD, as the makers have been submitting it to film festivals worldwide. I contacted the producer, Mercy Murugi, who graciously screened it for a group of about 20 people. The film is based on the true story of a man who got involved in the 2007 Kenyan election and the post-election violence that followed. It captures life in Kibera and Kenya- everything from ethnic tension, corruption, and the woes of street life to love, loyalty, and the vibrant culture of the slums. Truly a unique film and one to look out for in the U.S. soon!
Togetherness Supreme was produced by Hot Sun Films, started by director Nathan Collett. Hot Sun Films/Foundation also created the Kibera Film School, which trains youth from Kibera each year in film and television production. One initiative of the school is Kibera TV which produces local news reports for online viewing, providing stories difficult to find in the mainstream media. There are similar initiatives, such as Kibera News Network, started by Map Kibera, a project for Kiberans to create a digital map of the currently unmapped area.
Trailer for Togetherness Supreme:
Projects like these are just a tiny glimpse of what is going on in the people’s settlements of Nairobi, and all over the world. Though Hakijamii is not directly involved in these technologies, the concept of creating awareness and promoting human rights through local agents is the same. Pamoja- together- through community efforts like these, positive change can happen.