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Global Perspective

A different view of the game from Nairobi

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Kibera - The Shadow City
Photo by Christian Als/Panos Pictures

The Kibera slum on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, is regarded by most observers as the largest in Africa. Up to 1 million people are reported to live there in severe poverty, with some estimates claiming an 80% unemployment rate. Crime and hardship are ingrained into daily life. Maladies like salmonellosis, largely held in check in the Western world, take thousands of lives a year.

Life is difficult, but not hopeless. Photojournalists have long traveled to Kibera to document the vibrant colors of its fashion shows, boxing matches, schoolhouses and even ballet dancers among the unpaved roads filled with trash and human waste.

The same photographers have also noted one of the world’s clearest dividing lines between the haves and the have-nots: Royal Nairobi Golf Club, the oldest and one of the most prestigious clubs in Kenya, perched above it all. Certainly Kibera could use some of what RNGC’s got, but considering that the club’s website says hats, sunglasses and sneakers are still forbidden there, the opposite also appears true.