Bryan's View: Christmas in Kibera

Bryan Jaybee
 was born and raised in Kibera slums where he still resides. He is 22 years old and a journalism student at Multimedia University of Kenya, currently in his final year. Bryan regularly shares an insider’s view on life in Kibera on our blog with his photos and words. You can follow Bryan on instagram at @kiberastories for daily posts on life in Kibera. 

The song 'Mary's Boy Child' resonates into the air. The Christmas feeling can be felt all over the surroundings. It's business as usual and the streets are full of people - all in the rush for last minutes Christmas preparations and the shops in the streets are decorated with fairy lights to attract customers. It's Christmas Eve and both the young and the old are flocking into churches for 'kesha' - this is an overnight time spent inside churches to praise and worship the Almighty in anticipation for the big day - Christmas.

(Remains of burnt tyres lie on a roadside in Kibera on Christmas day during a night of kesha on the eve.)

This Christmas day in Kibera it rained heavily for almost over an hour. This was in the mid morning and people didn't really like it. Some people were annoyed saying of how the day had been ruined and of how they won't even go outside but rather stay indoors. All these was later changed in the course of the day and the sun started showing up in the afternoon. It was now dry and the Christmas feeling was well evident among the children of Kibera. Many kids were face painted, wearing new clothes and carrying balloons with them. All roads were leading to Uhuru Park - Nairobi's major recreation grounds. Here merry-go-rounds, boat riding and ice creams are very common among kids. Back in Kibera, many families had cooked lots of food, different delicacies, but the most favourites and common in all households are pilau and chapati. It's a tradition that every house have to cook that.

(Samson poses for a portrait during a Christmas with his balloon and his face also painted and written Xmas)

With all the new clothes and the feeling of Christmas, One tradition has always remained significant in the lives of Kibera residents, this is taking photos wearing the new clothes, new stunners, new shoes, balloons and everything for remembrance. Many people flock instant photo studio for their photos to be taken. It's really a big business for the photographers owning this studios - a Christmas day is never a day well spent without taking a walk to Mtalii or Oceanic photo studios in Kibera's central village of Gatwekera.

(People line up for their photos to be taken at an instant photo studio in Kibera during Christmas day celebrations.)

This is also one day with lots of dramas, remember it's an open celebration for all and so different people have different ways of celebrating - for some adults, it's a drinking spree. They would flock pubs and bars to enjoy the celebrations of the day with their friends and here fights would always occur - it's a tradition in some way.

(Adults seated inside a pub house, slowly enjoying themselves - drinking alcohol on Christmas day.)

Another favourites on this day for the kids is the use of fireworks - there are fireworks or explosives called 'Baruti' and kids really like them, they are sold locally during the festive season and they come in a variety of types and sizes. The bigger ones explode the loudest and they are very harmless. This were my childhood's most favorite.

(Kids playing with a fireworks explosive commonly known as 'baruti'.)

The celebrations would come to end late in the night because people are very tired, from the eating, going to Uhuru Park, drinking in the pubs. It's always a peaceful and tiresome night on 25/12 /2015. Christmas celebrations has always been fun in Kibera. It's a day that people start to prepare and save money for at the beginning of the year. Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year 2016.

(Kids posing for a photo at an outdoor photo studio on Christmas day)

selling balloons for people taking their kids to Uhuru Park for the Christmas celebrations to have fun in merry-go-rounds and boat riding.

(The Christmas fever can evidently be felt among kids, they are usually fully dressed for the day. New clothes, face painting, stunners, balloons are significant among them.)


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