This post is a direct response to Rasna Warah's post in Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper of 20 March 2011. I came across it here where it was reposted.
I watched Famous, Rich and in the Slums (here on YouTube) when it was aired in Britain by the BBC recently and my consternation at the issues featured was directed neither at the makers of the documentary, nor at those who participated in it. My anger, instead, was directed at the authorities in Kenya, who seem to be clueless as to their responsibility towards the country's citizens and in particular, the inhabitants of Kibera, a slum area in the country's capital city. Lest I incur the angst of my readers, I make haste at this point to clarify that this is not intended as an onslaught on the aptitude of the Kenyan government singly, since such ineptitude is characteristic of the majority of the governments of Africa.
The author in the Daily Nation opined:
"There are dozens, if not hundreds, of charities operating in Kibera and other slums like it, with few significant results to show for their efforts.There may be slightly more sanitation facilities in the slums now, but the living conditions have become only slightly less appalling - they have not improved dramatically. And the slum continues to grow."
And I ask, in all of this where are the Kenyan authorities? What function does the municipal authority in Nairobi perform when a sizeable segment of the city's population are forced to live in such squalid conditions? The author in the Daily Nation was critical of the NGOs that operate in the slum and seemed unhappy about what was referred to as "slum tourism", but I beg to differ.
Its puzzling that we do nothing about a problem and then think that we are justified in criticising the foreigners who make an effort to tackle our problem, one which we have previously ignored. Why do we become angered when westerners point at our festering sores that we have pretended did not exist? Most annoying for me is the fact that Raila Odinga, Kenya's Prime Minister, holds the parliamentary seat for Langata Constituency, which covers much of the Kibera slum.
My take on this is that it was never the intention of the makers of and participants in this documentary, (participants who in any event, include a considerable number of Kibera residents themselves), merely to provide entertainment for the film's viewers. What the film did for me was to vividly highlight the failure by another of Africa's governments to take an interest in, and responsibility for the welfare of those whom they govern. The situation is the same in much of Africa and I have written about the same thing in relation to Nigeria previously on this blog.