Strong and surviving

Walking towards the Dandora dumpsite in East Nairobi is an extraordinary experience. From afar, the 32 acres piece of land that started off as an abandoned quarry, 30 years ago, appears like a miniature mount. But when one nears it, the hill fades off, to the eruption of pigs, marabou storks, and human beings making a living out of others’ waste.

I meet 25 year old Easter Kavini, a lean short dark lady with a charming smile. She has lived here despite the many challenges she has continued to face. Easter is shy for a while but is willing to share the story of her life, at least the elements that relate to the dump.

Kavini walking towards the garbage centre.

Just like fellow other women, she arrived at the dumpsite from kariobangi after life became too unbearable at home after her parents passed on. She had to make it work for herself by living in the streets, in order to make a living. According to Easter, there are many jobs to do, within and out of the dump but not everyone is allowed in.

One has to struggle from early in the morning, when the waste trucks arrive, scavenging the wasteland in order to identify materials such as plastics, metals and bones that can be recycled. On a normal busy day, Easter will make Ksh 250-$3- .This will cater for food and other necessities. She has been through all but the worst nightmare came knocking in a few weeks ago when she lost her baby.

The stretch towards the valley.

Easter lost her almost 7-month baby while taking care of him, due to toxic gases and pneumonia during ongoing cold month of June at the Dandora dumpsite in Nairobi, Kenya. When the waste is burnt, toxic gases are formed and it is very noxious. Many of them -kids and women- were suffering from respiratory abnormalities, many had blocked airways.

The danger that comes along being at the dump.

The dumpsite equally poses serious social threats. Being an open space the dumpsite encourages and attracts many families to turn to street life since they scavenge for items from the dump site which they later sell to buy food.

Kavini scavenging for materials at the dump

Despite the loss, Easter convinced herself that she had to go on with life. She has since joined a women’s group at the site, which unites them to strive for development. In many instances during my visit, her mind would wander away and she would start to cry. The passion and attitude she has towards life explains the need of understanding her life and inner feelings.

The demand to deliver work soon after collection.

The dumpsite experience is a lesson to educate our people to be more concerned about their environment and act to improve it. Many are the times we are tempted to be spectators as others struggle for our rights. We must be participants in the process of change. In a million ways Easter Kavini stands a heroine.

Photography:: Joe Lukhovi

Location:: Dandora dumpsite.



If you looking for some real hip hop in Nairobi Kenya, no other place comes closer in my mind than the inner city slum neighborhood of Dandora. The home of hip hop pioneers; Kalamashaka and Ukoo Flani Mau Mau. AFREE KAH 2012′ Album launch by MC Kah went down last weekend 17th Feb @ Goethe Institute (Monrovia Street) Nairobi Kenya.

Passionate about music from his teens, Mcee Kah has emerged to be one of the best-known rap-artists in the East African Hip-Hop scene.

In 2001, Mcee Kah launched his solo career and started working on his debut album. Later on he released the single Dandora Love feat. Zakah and Kabee, which took the air waves by storm.

Mcee Kah and his crew Ukoo Flani Mau Mau won the annual Kisima Music Award for the best Hip-Hop Group of the Year in 2005 and 2006.

His socially conscious music encourages love, peace and harmony in the society. After various tours he has been inspired to release his second album AFREE-KAH 2012, a continuation of his first album SUBIRA.

Both albums have been inspired by the struggle of the marginalized groups, their strength, their role in the modern world, while capturing their history, current affairs and their vision for the future of humanity.

The new album exhibits the fusion of African instruments in digital Hip-Hop  sounds as well as revolutionary Mau Mau songs.

Photography :: Joe Lukhovi