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16 January

Hoperaisers of Korogocho

[World Social Forum] 

The two young men from Korogocho showed up punctually. I gave them the guitar. They played and singed. They are good singers. Real good. Therefore I might as well mention their names so that you can recognize them when you hear them later. Daniel Onyango is 19, Isaiah Kimani 18. There are other members of their band also, whom I have not yet heard singing or playing. "Hoperaisers" is the name of the band. They are about to release a CD, their first, I assume. "These are voices from the South", and "Wake up Kenyans", for instance, are nice new songs they have made. I believe the WSF participants will appreciate. The latter is in Swahili. "Another World is Possible", another of their songs, reminds me of "We shall Overcome". The Hoperaisers in the picture here, with Isaiah (holding guitar) and Daniel (on his left). Hoperaisers

We took off to Korogocho in a taxi. I asked Daniel to enumerate the slums of Nairobi. Here are some names to start with: Kiambio (we pass that on our way), Citycotton (we pass that one, too), Mathare (with perhaps half a million inhabitants), Kibera (the biggest: population ca 1 million; its roofs are seen from the way to the national park), Mukuru, Kawangware, Kangemi, Huruma, Kayole, Soweto (yes, another Soweto, not the same as in S.A.) and Mailisaba. There are also new slums which still lack names, like the one you see here in the photo Slum Without A Name.

There are many stories to be told from Korogocho. In fact, some 150.000 people live there, close to a dump site. The dump site looks like dump sites look, but it is enormous, the biggest of Nairobi. I will not show pictures of it. Between Korogocho and the actual smoking and stinking pile of dump is a nicer looking little valley where "many people have died" (Daniel), sinking into the old quarry (the "valley" has sometimes been a stone quarry). So the dump is, in its own way, dominating the landscape, which, in principle is beautiful. The dump kills people in Korogocho, of course, causing disease and cancer.

Korogocho, by the way, is not very far from the Moi sports stadium of Kasarani, the main venue of the World Social Forum. What do the people in Korogocho think about the WSF? I don't know much about that, but at least there are groups which prepare actively and visibly for it. Hoperaisers is one of these groups, for sure. "Koch-FM", the emerging Community radio station, is another (Koch = Korogocho). Geoffrey K Muriitki tells me all about it in his container, refurbished into radio studio. If all goes well Koth-FM goes live on Sunday. But they have problems with the transmitter.. They have fighted hard with the government officials last year over the license. At one point they had to arrange a demonstration within the government office. Finally they got permission to send on bandwith 99.9. Koch-Fm hopes to reach some 800.000 listeners, and it will not only send radio programs. It will also go out to the various parts of Korogocho (there are 9 "groups", that is, districts) to arrange discussions: fight drugs, educate on HIV, for isntance. a CR station can run only 2 ads per day, so it will not be a commercial radio. The Norwegian church and "Open Society" has assisted with the equipment. Koch FM.

Over the "entrance" to Korogocho, already, hangs a big banderolle which tells about the WSF and the Marathon from Korogocho to the city center (ca 14 km) which will take place on the last, closing, day of the WSF. The aid organisations of the churches are active here, not least the Catholic Church (St. John) which has done social work here since 30 years, building a school, a library, and the audience where Hoperaisers gave a concert the day before our tour (ca 5.000 yong attended, they say). Father Daniele Moschetti, an impressive figure with a wooden crucifix on his chest, wishes me "welcome to us". (Checkout: www.korogocho.org )

After the concert of the Hoperaisers, a stand has come up, where people can register for participation in the World Social Forum. How will it be to participate in the WSF? Will the young slum-dwellers from Korogocho find the researchers and activists who have registered so many activities for the WSF? The "final draft" of the programme of the WSF was released at http://www.wsf2007.org yesterday. The venues and times are not yet in that draft. Intersting to see how people will find each others and their activities. Here, to end with, a picture of the registration in Korogocho

registration for the WSF in Korogocho.

teltat nousevat Kasaranissa| Paradsidan | What World Social Forum Aims At
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