Kibera, one of the biggest slums in Nairobi, Kenya, and one of the biggest in the world, houses people from all ethnic backgrounds coming from different parts of the country.
The original settlers were the Nubian people from the Kenyan/Sudanese border, mostly Muslim, living alongside the Kikuyu, the majority tribe in Nairobi, although now the majority of the tenants are Luo, Luhya and some Kamba, from the west of Kenya. There are many tensions in Kibera, particularly tribal tensions between the Luo and the Kikuyu, but also between landlord and tenant and those with and without jobs.
One man, Geoffrey Ochieng, also known as Oyoo (meaning mouse in Acholi) and a native from Kibera, is trying to create an identity for them. The TV Show Top Comic has chosen him as the funniest man in Kenya and the slum is so proud of him, his initiative for the community was been received with open arms.
Kibera Creative Arts, his own social project, aims at educating and transforming the society in the slum through the arts. A group of comedians, poets, dancers and singers used their influence to attract the youth and counteract crime.
The Spanish NGO Kubuka has helped funding the project with a new and special element: the construction of an identity for Kibera. “We have to live like brothers. You cannot permit that politics make you kill your brother”, said Oyoo to the Spanish Newspaper El País.
In the headquarter of Kibera Creative Arts everything speaks about the neighbourhood: the music, the pictures, and the handicrafts. More important than the ethnicity of the maker, the voice of the whole neighbourhood is what matters. “There is a lot of talent here”, says Oyoo, “we want to attract the youth so they don’t fall into delinquency”. What Ochieng wants is to erase all divisive ethnic components; neither Luo nor Kikuyu, everyone is from Kibera there.
He intends to show children and youth what they are able to do. “Not everyone is going to be an artist, but the arts gives them the possibility of expression”, reaffirms the comedian. “It is the art and not the violence what can help you to get out of poverty”.
As stated within the Shared Societies Commitments, promotion of respect, understanding and appreciation of cultural, religious and ethnic diversity and support for local communities in exploring their identity is one of the steps to deal with social division and exclusion.