Nairobi – a life in the shadow / Najrobi – život u senci

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Nairobi, 2012. / Published in BLIC MAGAZINE, Belgrade, Serbia, april 2014.

Sa ulice Koinange dopire veseli žamor. Petak je, nešto nakon dva ujutru. Iako je prohladna majska noć, devojke stoje samo u donjem vešu, na štiklama.
“Dođi, ne plaši se…pa njoj treba muškarac, zar ne?’’ Ponavljam da želim samo da razgovaram, no Dzošua, moj taksista, vec zlovoljno odmahuje glavom. Bojažljivo raskopčavam jaknu i na njegov užas, nazire se fotoaparat. Devojke već počinju da viču “Ne, ne! Nee! “ zaklanjajuci lica rukama.
Brzo sam zakopčala jaknu, no bilo je prekasno. Iz mraka su se pojavila dvojica krupnih muškaraca u vrećastim kožnim jaknama. Dzošua me je zgrabio i ugurao u taksi. Zaključao je vrata i pomahnitalo dao gas. “Rekao sam ti … rekao sam ti …” – isprekidano je ponavljao, vidno uplašen.

Najrobi, glavni i najveći grad Kenije, noću nije bezbedan. Ovaj administrativni centar Istocne Afrike ne bez razloga, nosi nadimak “Najroberi”. ‘’Mesto hladne vode – enkare nyirobi” – na Masai jeziku, čuva oko tri miliona ljudi, od kojih preko 60% živi u slamovima.

The Koinange Street is filled with laughter. It’s Friday, sometime after two in the morning. Although it is a chilly may night, girls stand in heels, wearing their underwear.
“Come, do not be scared … so she needs a man, do not you?” I repeat that I just want to talk, but Joshua, my cabbie, was sullenly shaking his head. I unbuttoned my jacket and to his horror, the camera showed up. Girls are already beginning to shout “No, no! No!” ,  hiding faces with their hands.
I quickly buttoned up my jacket, but it was too late. Two big men in baggy leather jackets emerged from the darkness. Joshua grabbed and pulled me into a taxi. He locked the door and pressed down the gas. “I told you … I told you …” he repeated visibly frightened.

Nairobi, Kenya’s capital and largest city, is not safe at night. This East African administrative centre is nicknamed Nairobery for a reason. “The City of Cold Water – enkare nyirobi” – in the Masaai language, watches over more than three million people, of whom around 60% live in slums.

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Žene peru veš u Kiberi, najvećem slamu u Najrobiju / Doing laudry in Kibera, the biggest slum in Nairobi

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Dvorište kuce u Kiberi / Backyard in Kibera

Sara živi u Kiberi. Ima 28. godina i radi kao prostitutka već neko vreme. “Ostala sam trudna pre tri godine. On je rekao da ce me oženiti, ali kad je beba napunila dva meseca, pobegao je. Više ne znam gde je.”
Sarinu bebu čuva njena mama. Ona misli da njena ćerka radi noćnu smenu kao recepcionarka, u nekom hotelu. “Krenem oko 8. ili 9.uveče. U torbu stavim odeću za tu noć, pa se presvučem negde pre nego što počnem…kako bih ti to rekla.. da radim. Znaš, za jutro mi treba nesto pristojno, dovoljno dugačka suknja ili pantalone.”

Sarah lives in Kibera. She is 28 years old and has been a prostitute for some time. “I was pregnant three years ago, he said he would marry me, but when the baby was two months old, he left. I do not know where he is.”
Sara’s mother is taking care of the baby. She thinks her daughter is making a night shift as a receptionist at a hotel. “I’m moving around on the 8 or 9pm. I put clothes in the bag for that night, so I change somewhere before I start … how to put it … to work. You know, for the morning I need something decent, a skirt that is long enough or trousers. “

Sara je na ulici od ponoći do 5.ujutru. Obično u toku noći ima jednog do dva klijenta, kojima naplaćuje oko 1000ksh ( 10eura), nekada više – od 2000 do 2500ksh – nekada manje. “Sve zavisi kakvo je veče” , kaze.
Ona ne želi da radi u klubovima i da vreba belce. “To nije sigurna zarada. Moram da platim ulaz, piće … belci dobro plaćaju, po 50usd i više, ali veruj mi, ima mnogo devojaka koje im se nude. Lepih devojaka. Kako da budem sigurna da će bas mene odabrati?”

Sara is on the street from midnight until 5am. Usually, during the night she has one or two clients, and charge about 1000ksh (10 euros), sometimes more – from 2000 to 2500ksh – sometimes less. “Depends on what the evening is like,” she says.
She does not want to work in clubs and lure the mzungu (white men). “It’s not a safe profit. I have to pay the entrance, a drink … the white men pay well, 50 USD and more, but believe me, there are many girls that offer themselves. Beautiful girls. How can I make sure that he will choose me? “

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Sara na ulici / Sarah on the street

Sara usluge pruža na ulici, u automobilu ili hotelu, ukoliko klijent plati, no ona priznaje da se to retko dešava. “Neke devojke ih vode svojoj kuci, ali ja to ne bih mogla. Kibera je daleko, vidiš…a i beba i mama su tamo.”

Na oko 5km daleko od centra nalazi se najveći slam u Najrobiju – Kibera. Nastao je početkom 20.veka, kada su se u šumama na tom području izdvojile parcele za Nubijske vojnike. Podeljen na 13 delova, danas predstavlja pravi mali etnički centar Kenije, koji i dalje prožimaju plemenski sukobi.

Sara provides services on the street, in a car or a hotel if the client pays, but she admits that rarely happens. “Some girls take them home, but I could not do it. Kibera  is far away, you see … and the baby and mom are there.”

At about 5km away from the centre, lays the largest slum in Nairobi – Kibera. It was created at the beginning of the 20th century when the plots for Nubian soldiers were allocated from the forest in the area. Divided into the 13 parts, today it represents the small ethnic centre of Kenya, which is still permeated by tribal conflicts.

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Đubre u Kiberi / Garbage in Kibera

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Čista voda se mora doneti / People must bring clean water

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Sara ponekad mora da pešaci do centra grada, jer nema matatua (kombi prevoza) tako kasno uveče. “Pokušavala sam da pronadjem posao. Završila sam i srednju školu, ali na žalost, svuda ima korupcije. Traže i vise od 200 usd za posao kasirke, što je previše za mene. Čak i ako im platim, nije sugurno da ću dobiti radno mesto.”
U Kiberi za nju i ogromnu većinu nema posla. Prodavci povrća zarade dnevno oko 200ksh (oko 2eura), sto nikako nije dovoljno za porodicu. Zato mnoga deca i ne idu u školu, vec rade. Roditelji nemaju novac da kupe knjige (oko 40usd godišnje) i dve uniforme – koje staju oko 20usd godišnje.

Sara sometimes has to walk to the city centre, because there are no matatus (vans) so late in the evening. “I was trying to find a job. I finished high school, but unfortunately, there is corruption everywhere. They are looking for more than 200 USD for the job of the cashier, which is too much for me. Even if I pay, it’s not a guarantee that I will get a job.” There is no work in Kibera for her and the vast majority of people. Vegetable sellers earn about 200ksh (about 2 EUR) per day, which is not enough for a family. That’s why many children do not go to school, they are already working. Parents do not have the money to buy books (about 40 USD a year) and two uniforms – that cost about 20 USD a year.

Obično je veći procenat dečaka koji rade – na građevini, kao prodavci, nosači… Devojčice se bave kućnim poslovima za veoma niske nadnice.
Nevladine organizacije (NGO) ovde zovu i Not Good Organisations – jer većina ima samo P.O.Box broj, da bi mogli da traže i sakupljaju novac za svoje potrebe.

There is usually a higher percentage of boys who work – on buildings, as sellers, carriers … Girls are doing housework for very low wages. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) here are called Not Good Organizations – because most only have a P.O. Box number in order to be able to collect money for their own needs.

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Deca slama / The children of the slum

Ekstremno siromaštvo, nezaposlenost, nemogućnost da se promeni život na bolje, vode ka celodnevnom opijanju čangom, domaćim alkoholnim pićem od kukuruza ili prosa, šecera i vode. Može da sadrzi i do 60,70% alkohola, uz dodatak benzina, kiselina. Ono doslovno znači “ubij me brzo” jer se, neretko, to i događa. Silovanja, čak i dece, su česta u Kiberi, kao i krađe i razbojništva. Većina devojčica do 16.godina u Kiberi je priznalo da se plaši silovanja, dok je mnogo bilo primorano na prvi odnos. Brak je čest kod devojčica iz ovog slama, one su uglavnom mlađe od svojih supruga. Na žalost, nasilje u braku je takodje često, kao i AIDS.
Muškarci gotovo da i ne koriste prezervative, te je ogromna vecina trudnoća u Kiberi neželjena. Budući da devojke nemaju dovoljno novca da plate abortus u klinici, jer kosta oko 1000 usd, u humanitarnim klinikama je oko 60 do 100 usd, mnoge odlučuju da rode dete, a neke da povere svoje zdravlje, ali i život lokalnim doktorima, bez medicinskog obrazovanja, za cenu od oko 10 usd po abortusu. Često se dešava da neka mlada devojka iskrvari na smrt ili zadobije teške genitalne povrede i trpi jake bolove ostatak života. Neke preminu od infekcija, jer se radi u nesterilnim uslovima (koriste se plastične cevi, čak i delovi bicikle ili igle za pletenje). Kenija je izrazito hrišćanska zemlja, te abortus u većini slucajeva nije legalan i devojke mogu nekada očekivati i bes svojih supruga – jer su po njihovom mišljenju – ubile dete.

Extreme poverty, unemployment, the inability to change lives for better, leads to day-to-day drinking changaa, a homemade alcoholic beverage made from corn or millet, sugar and water. It can contain 60 to 70% of alcohol, with the addition of gasoline, acid. It literally means “kill me fast” because, sometimes, it literally happens. Rape, of ven children, is common in Kibera, as well as theft and robbery. Most girls up to 16 years old in Kibera admitted that they were afraid of rape, while many were forced into their first intercourse. Marriage is common for young girls from this slum and most of them are much younger than their husbands. Unfortunately, violence in marriage is also common, as is AIDS.
Most men do not use preservatives, so the vast majority of pregnancy in Kibera is unwanted. Since girls do not have enough money to pay for abortion in the clinic, as it costs about 1000 USD and at humanitarian clinics from 60 to 100 dollars, so they decide to give birth, but some choose to trust their health and life to local doctors without medical education for a price of about $ 10 per abortion. Often happens that a young girl bleeds to death or suffers severe genital injuries and pains for the rest of her life. Some even die from infections as it is done in non-sterile conditions. Kenya is a Christian country and abortion is in most cases not legal, so girls can sometimes expect the anger of their husbands – because husbands think they have killed their babies.

“Ne želim da odgajam dete ovde, zato i radim ovo. Štedim za nju, za školu.” – kaže Sara. Kuću u kojoj živi iznajmljuje za 20 usd mesečno. Dve tamne, male prostorije čuvaju nešto starog nameštaja. Struje nema, a nije ni sigurno imati je. Jeftini kablovi su ukopani u blato, koje se spira tokom kišne sezone i tada često neko izgubi život.

“I do not want to raise my child here, that is the reason  I’m doing this. I am saving for her, for school,” says Sarah. The house she lives in rents for 20 USD a month. Two dark, small rooms store some old furniture. There is no electricity, nor is it safe to have it. Cheap cables are buried in the sludge, which is washed during the rainy season when often someone loses his life.

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Kablovi i cevi u Kiberi nisu bezbedni / Pipes and cables in Kibera are not safe

Čistu vodu Sara mora da plati, kao i upotrebu toaleta. Usluga tuširanja iznosi 6 kenijskih šilinga, dok 20 litara tople vode košta 4ksh. Ceo jedan, veliki euro za kupanje.
Upotreba toaleta se naplaćuje 2ksh i zbog nemogućnosti da istu plate, veliki broj žitelja slama kopa duboku rupu kraj svoje kuće, koju prazne s vremena na vreme. Fekalije se odnose u reku, koja je već previše zagađena, te se dešavaju iznenadne epidemije kolere, tifusa.

Sarah has to pay for a clean water, and for using a bathroom. Shower service costs 6 Kenyan shillings, while 20 litres of hot water costs 4ksh. One large euro for having a bath. The use of toilets is charged 2ksh and because of the impossibility to pay, a large number of residents slum digs a deep hole near houses, which is emptied from time to time. Faeces go to the river, which is already too polluted, so sudden epidemics of cholera, typhoid is inevitable.

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Iznajmljivanje javnog toaleta / Public bathrooms are rented

Pitam je kako savladava strah. “Dešavaju se loše stvari. Neke devojke su silovane, ubijene. Neke pretučene…kao sto sam ja. Vidis li ovo?” – reče pomerivši guste crne šiške sa čela. “Ovaj ožiljak… Te noći sam mogla da budem mrtva.” Duboko uzdahnuvši, nastavlja – “ Bili smo u njegovom stanu i tražila sam mu da mi plati, ali on je bio pijan. Otišao je do kuhinje i vratio se noseći veliki nož… Znaš mnoge devojke piju da bi se potpuno opustile, ali to nije dobro. Ja ne želim da pijem. Moram da imam bar neku kontrolu. Mi nemamo makroa, niko nas ne čuva, osim askarija (čuvara, obezbeđenja) ako im damo nešto novca. Same smo.”

I ask her how is she overcoming the fear. “Bad things happen. Some girls were raped, killed. Some beaten up … like me. Do you see this? ” she said moving dense black bangs from her forehead. “This scar … that night I could be dead.” With a deep sigh, she continues: “We were in his apartment and I asked him to pay me, but he was drunk. He went to the kitchen and returned with a big knife … You know, many girls drink to relax completely, but that’s not good. I do not want to drink. I need to have some control. We do not have pimps, nobody cares for us, except for askari (guards, security) if we give them some money. We are alone. “

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Sara pokazuje ožiljak na čelu / Sarah is showing me the scar on her forehead

Narednog jutra krenula sam Kenjata avenijom u potragu za oronulim, narandžastim Tasker barom. Uznemirujuće uzak ulaz krije strme stepenice, činilo mi se, čitava večnost mi je bila potrebna da se popnem. Bila sam sama. Čim su me devojke ugledale, počele su da viču u glas “Oooh, vidi! Hoceš li muškarca? Hajde…”
Zavladala je neprijatna tišina kad su videle fotoaparat. A onda su gotovo sve odbile da pričaju sa mnom, samo su me dve devojke ljubopitljivo saslušale. Sa 2000ksh našle smo se na po 100ksh svakoj za razgovor. Kako su bile gladne uzele su po uji (kasu) i odvele me na stepenice, da bismo bile same.

The next morning, I was walking the Kenyatta Avenue in search of a decrepit, orange Tusker Bar. The disturbingly narrow entrance covered the steep stairs, and it seemed I needed an eternity to climb. I was alone. As soon as the girls saw me, they began shouting “Oooh, look! Do you want a man? Come on …”
There was an unpleasant silence when they saw the camera. And then almost everyone refused to talk to me, but two girls listened with interest. From 2000ksh we got to 100ksh each for an interview. As they were hungry, they bought an uji and took me to the stairs to be alone.

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Tasker bar / Tusker bar

Žil je lepa. Dok nežno pali cigaretu, svojim krupnim očima znatiželjno gleda u moju svesku. Ima 25.godina i vec je 3.godine u ovom baru. Otkriva mi da želi da ode u Nemačku. Upitah je zašto bas tamo. “Zato što se tamo seks dobro plaća.”
Džeklin je dve godine mlađa i ni ona ne želi da ostane u Keniji. Nervozno je čupkala svoju bujnu kovrdžavu kosu, stalno bacajući pogled na gore. Upitah je da li očekuje nekoga, no ona neočekivano odgovori, “ Iskreno ja vise volim da radim danju. Kraće traje…razumeš me? Dobijem 500, 800 ksh, dovoljno mi je za hranu i pivo uveče.”

Giles is beautiful. As she gently lights a cigarette, her eyes curiously fall on my notebook. She’s 25 years old and she’s been 3 years in this bar. Giles reveals that she wants to go to Germany. I asked why there. “Because sex is well paid there.”
Jaquelin is two years younger and she also does not want to stay in Kenya. She nervously twitched with her lush curly hair, constantly glancing up. I asked if she was expecting someone, but she said: “I honestly prefer to work daytime. It’s shorter … you understand me? I get 500, 800 ksh, I’m good for a food and beer in the evening. “

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Merion i Džeklin / Marion and Jaquelin

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Merion na stepenicama / Marion at the stairs

Žil je kozmetičarka i nema decu. Došla je iz centralne provincije, gde se njeni roditelji i dalje bave stočarstvom. Mlađa sestra i brat su još uvek tamo. “Nikada ih nisam pozvala da me posete. Ne želim ih ovde.”
Gore, na vrhu stepenica pojavila se nešto starija devojka. Stajala je bez reči tamo neko vreme, a onda je sišla i napućivši usne, strasno izdahnula dim cigarete u mene. To je bila Marion, devojka koja je najduže u baru. Iza nje se krio omanji belac, čupave plave kose. Izvirivši, promuca “Ja sam Evan” uz kurtoazni osmeh i upita devojke “Da li vam smeta?” – pokazujći na mene. Osetih da je bolje da ne govorim ništa, jer nisam znala ko je on. Marion odmahnu rukom i senzualno se nasloni na zid. “Evane, ona je moja briga.” . Žil I Džeklin su ga uhvatile za ruke i odlazeći ljupko me upitale “Dolaziš li veceras na pivo? Biće zabavno!”
“Čuj, mene možes da fotografišeš… Jel treba da se skinem? Smeta li ti cigareta?” Upitah je ko je Evan. “Sladak je, zar ne? Pre mnogo godina došao je da radi… I ostao je. Koristi sve, pa cak i kat (khat – biljka koja se zvace, izaziva i euforiju)”- reče uz osmeh. “Ne plaši se, on je često ovde, zato voli da brine o nama. Dobio je AIDS, ko zna gde i kako. Sada preživljava, odbrojava svoje dane sa nama … bas kao i ja …”

Giles is a beautician and has no children. She came from the central province, where her parents continue to do cattle farming. Her younger sister and brother are still there. “I never invited them to visit me. I do not want them here. “
Up, at the top of the stairs, an older girl appeared. She stood silently there for some time, and came down, puckered up her lips, and exhaled cigarette smoke in my face. It was Marion, the girl who is the longest in the bar. Behind her was a small white man, with messy blue hair. Peeping out, he said “I am Evan” with a polite smile and asked the girls “Does she bother you?” – pointing at me. I felt it is better to say anything because I did not know who he was. Marion sensually leaned against the wall “Evan, she’s my concern.” Gile and Jacqueline took him by the hands and walking out they lovingly asked me, “Are you coming for a beer tonight?” It will be fun!”
“Listen, you can take my photo … Do I need to take my clothes off? Do you mind a cigarette? “I asked who Evan was. “He’s cute, isn’t he? He came to work many years ago … and stayed. He uses everything, even the khat (khat – a plant that causes euphoria when you chew it)”, she said with a smile. “Do not be afraid, he comes often here, so he likes to take care of us. He got AIDS, who knows where and how. He is now surviving, counting his days with us … just as I do … “

Dok sam se vraćala ka hotelu koraci su mi bili teski. Iz malih, prenatrpanih prodavnica dopirala je glasna africka pop muzika. Ljudi su se tiskali na matatu stanicama, pokušavajuci da uhvate prvi kombi do kuće. Počeo je pljusak i samo su deca veselo trčala po praznom trotoaru, trazeći bare. Kapi kiše još uvek spiraju teret surove sadašnjosti sa njihovih lica, darivajući im najlepše osmehe na svetu. Vreme je da se Afrika probudi i zapocne borbu za sve svoje osmehe.

As I was walking back to the hotel, my steps were heavy. From small, overcrowded shops, loud African pop music was playing. People were squeezing on the matatu stations, trying to catch the first van home. The rain began, and only the children cheerfully ran across the empty sidewalk, searching for ponds. The raindrops still wash away the burden of the raw present from their faces, giving them the most beautiful smiles in the world. It’s time for Africa to wake up and start a fight for all of its smiles.

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