An invitation to a home on Kibera is a huge honour, although both humbling, and daunting. Visitors from the many other defined Kibera sub-districts are easily identified by gait or language, and are often targeted; Mzungu skin simply negates the guesswork. Our hosts, having earned their respect through their demonstrable commitment to coaching of the Kibera teenagers, nod to the lads enquiring eyes to secure our safe passage through the tiny darkened passageways.
Police rarely encroach too deeply into Kibera, partly because of personal safety. Protection rackets and territorial controls reduce policing to ‘react and snatch’ followed by summary punishment. Often fatal, this reduces court time and gang retribution through identification of police and their families.
Just being observed walking with us has resulted in a consequential mugging, and the centre is habitually raided post visit. Team security is paramount to our tireless hosts. Usually it is a not so subtle escort or two, or a stern reminder not to stray from the community centre walls.
Always an upside:- Two employed armed guards at the large Sunday church gatherings are making a small contribution to the local economy.