Young people from the Nairobi slum of Mathare on Tuesday treated dignitaries attending the ongoing Africities Summit to an enlightening art and music show in downtown Nairobi at an event where diplomats mingled with members of the Mathare Youth Sports Association.
The association, supported by the Government of Norway, Fujifilm and UN HABITAT, displayed photographs taken by 10 young slum dwellers from Mathare. Each were given a camera and some training and told to take pictures of their lives as slum dwellers. The pictures are therefore the life stories of these young people who live in absolute poverty in one of Africa’s largest slums.
The pictures were first exhibited at the Third Session of the World Urban Forum in Vancouver, Canada and later in Oslo, Norway. The exhibit is part of an international project album, entitled, “Image-in”, to publicise the concerns of young people and inspire their peers globally.
UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Mr. Kinuthia Murugu, and Norwegian Ambassador Ms. Elizabeth Jacobsen all underlined the importance of recognizing the youth as leaders in their own right.
Mrs. Jacobsen said: “I am proud of this project because its main aim is to give young people the chance to tell their stories to a wide audience through words and pictures – the result of successful teamwork. Just like football is all about teamwork, no team can do well just because it has one or two good players.” She stressed that the photos are red flags to the international community as they depicted the depth of the issues affecting slums in Africa as well as the need to strategically involve the youth in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Mrs. Tibaijuka said, “It is a shame and indeed a crisis that in Africa today 72 percent of city dwellers live in slums. The theme of Africities this week is on localizing the Millennium Development Goals. And this work coming from Mathare – one of Africa’s largest, most overcrowded slums with over half a million people – is a pointer to how it can be done… At the United Nations, we most strongly believe that all young people should be given the opportunity to have a greater say in their future and the future of their cities.”
“We are honored to have represented our community in Vancouver, Oslo and now Nairobi,” said a spokesman for the youth association. “We hope other youth will be inspired to take positive actions in their community as we have”.