Notebooks from a trampfest. Travel tips, tales and images, online since 2006.

Kawangware.

On Sunday I visited Kawangware, one of the biggest slums in Nairobi. By most estimates, about half a million people live in this densely populated area of a few square miles, but no one seems to have an exact figure, and officials don’t really seem to care enough to even try to count. Officially, many slum dwellers are squatters, thus many of these areas lack the most basic services –all services, for the most part. Many here have no running water, no electricity, no garbage pick-up.

In parts the squalor is numbing, the smells at times are gagging. With few communal toilets, human waste oftentimes winds up in plastic bags, which eventually wind up scattered in the dirt makeshift streets or in any of a number of larger makeshift dumps where cows, pigs, goats and chickens rummage for food.

But beyond that initial surface view it is also a thriving, tightly-knit community. One I’m sure I won’t quickly, if ever, forget.

A few stories are forthcoming. In the meantime, here are a few pictures; more on my flickr page.

 

kawangware01.jpg

 

kawangware13.jpg

 

kawangware06.jpg

 

kawangware11.jpg

 

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7 Comments
  1. james kariuki says

    hi,
    some of the stuff you said about kawangware are true, some are half true, and some are not. If you would like to comment about kawangware, why dont you spend more time here and you will qualify to comment about it. Or get an expert opininon from folks from here.
    james kariuqee
    kariuqee@yahoo.com

  2. mona says

    I HAVE A WOMEN E MAIL FRIEND THAT LIVES CLOSE TO NAIROBI SHE ALAO PREACH IN
    KAWANGWARE SHE IS TRYING TO RAISE HER SON AND A DOPTED BOY AND SENCE ALL THIS STUFF BROKE OUT SHE TOOK IN A WOMEN
    THERE ARE SOME KIND PEOPLE THEE I WISH WE COULD HELP MORE ITS A SHAME THE WAY THEY LIVE

  3. Mohamed says

    Pathetic and sorrowful for the in-human conditions that human beings, in this century – have to dwell Kawangware and other similar slum areas across the country. It is unfortunate for these people. However, blame is directly pointed to capitalism and it’s brutal mechanisms, that the world has embraced from the Westerners. The making of harder and very competitive education exams – where the unfortunate cannot secure a chance at a government university or polytechenic – erasing the dreams of a degree – diminishing chances of a better job opportunity.
    Besides,the government does not allocate funds for the construction of settlements, where basic humanitarian facilities such as toilets, water,sewage,garbage collection points,construction of schools and clinics can be built. Little attention is given to these unfortunate people in society. Politicians will argue that the government doesnt have funds to allocate for the poor, these are lame excuses – funds are available for national ceremonies and for ministers and officials lavish spending. If stringent measures are taken against public funds embezzelement, alot will be done for the poor.

  4. David Harvey says

    Have to agree with Jim. Yes it is not the best place in the world, but there are pockets of good housing, water and electricity. My new wife lived there with her mum and family. I never had any trouble what so ever and I’m a muzungu (apart from being reminded of the fact every 2 minutes 🙂 ). Ok after dark you don’t really want to be running around outside but my wife and I caught a matatu to Westlands at 10.30pm with no trouble. It is so easy to paint everyone with the same brush. Yes there is poverty, yes there is injustice, but there are lots of decent people making a living and getting on with life.

  5. Tania says

    Hi I have just spent some time staying in Kawangware and I loved it. I did not see any cows or pigs and yes at times there are some areas that have unpleasant smells but on the whole I found the people to be very kind, exceptionally well dressed and well presented with their clothes spotlessly clean. I think that people in all kinds of places make the best out of the life they have and I agree with David its not a great idea to be walking around at night but to be honest there are hundreds of places in Australia I wouldnt walk around at night either so there is no difference there. I caught lots of matatus to get around and spent my time in schools and orphanages volunteering and some of my favourite moments in Kenya were on matatus just for the sheer fun and joy they were. I loved Nairobi and I especially loved Kawangware.

  6. simon says

    PLIZ DON’T TALK THAT HIYO NDIO MTAA N WE LOVE IT NO MATTER HOW IT LOOKS SAWA.

  7. andrew says

    Anybody willing to help? Please get in touch with me: kawangware2010@gmail.com

Thoughts?

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