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Inventing Nairobi
SEPTEMBER 2005
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In some cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.
Photograph by Rebecca Hale



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Inventing Nairobi






    I was chatting with a street kid in the Eastlands area of Nairobi when he asked me for money. He had asked me the day before, and I had bought him lunch. But on this day, I told him that I had no money. He took away the bottle of glue he was holding in his mouth and looked at me for a moment. Then he gave me 40 shillings, shouted "Jah Rastafari," and walked off.
    It was depressing to visit the dumps outside Dandora. The Kenyan government continues to dump garbage from the entire city of Nairobi into this low-income suburb. The dump site has doubled in size in the past few years and now borders a school playground. Kenya's new government is into keeping the city clean—but only for those who have money.     When photographer Dave Harvey and his assistant were taking my "On Assignment" photo for the magazine, one guy from the crowd kept sticking his head in the shot. When we tried to get him to stop, he got angry, pointing at me and asking, "Why is he in the shot and not me?"
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