Getting Off The Comfort Zone
100 m from where I live there is, for lack of a better word a shanty estate. A strip of informal structures lined up on the bank of an over polluted river . For the past six years that I’ve lived in the neighborhood, not in a single day have I set foot in shanty town, not because of stereotypes but statistics, (charts and graphs never lie). It houses particular sect adherents and provide safe houses and passage to criminals from raid expeditions on the better side of the estate. It seems the city planner in his wisdom gave every Langata its Kibera and every Muthaiga its Mathare.
One in grating fact about the area is the constant drum banging by the akorino sect that has four churches within the estate. The combined drumming of all factions operating in resonance can power up an acoustic generator to light up the whole estate. Their worshiping services too are scary. The “mass” are conducted inthe dead of the night as if to creep in when the devil is asleep and surprise him. This nocturnal exercise begin with an exorcism session where the drum is smacked near rupture point to awaken the drowsy spirits. At this point the pillow is usually my savior. Despite all this, today I gathered my courage and ventured into the unknown.
So this is it, I felt teleported thousands of miles to a new found “civilization”. My first sighting was a colossal concrete pipe that transports raw sewer to Ruai, the innovative inhabitants had bust the pipe and redirected the effluents to their shamba system. Fertilizer and water all bundled up in a single duct. The innovation doesn’t end there; their farms are reclaimed stone quarries with gabions built to hold the little remaining soil and are organized in rectangular furrowed fields with alternating banana, maize and beans plantation. Keeping the city green and fed.
Next up , a set of mabati houses built below high voltage power lines that give of a hissing sound. Passing below the power line is hard enough, how hard can it be to live below it? An ordinary citizen would require an extra soul to call this place home. A young boy told me if I point a fluorescent tube to the high tension power-line it would light up.I wasn’t courageous enough to try it out despite my curiosity. After several rounds in the shanty town it was time to make it back to the nerds room. I’m glad I wasn’t mugged. Separated by a single road we lived worlds apart.
Originally published at blackorwa.com on June 13, 2012.