Children from Kenya’s slums tell their own story in a DIY zine

Zinester, a social initiative, is giving children from Kenya’s biggest slum a chance to write and photograph their own narrative in a DIY zine.

Tom Grass, Harrison Thane and the children of Kibera, Kenya’s biggest slum, have co-created Chocolate City, a visual zine that captures the Kibera narrative from the perspective of its youngest inhabitants.

Chocolate City is the first co-created zine from Grass and Thane’s social initiative, Zinester. The initiative aims to give marginalised and remote communities a voice through a co-creative process that involves training the participants as photographers, journalists and entrepreneurs in order to publish a simple, low cost, lo-fi magazine. 

In July this year, Grass and Thane travelled to Kibera’s Wings of Life Children’s Centre to get the ball rolling on the first publication from Zinester.

The Wings of Life Children’s Centre was established in 2004 as a childhood development centre to support destitute children in the slum. The centre takes in children aged four to eight who are victims of poverty, broken families, abuse and neglect. The children often come from single parent homes, are abandoned or are orphans.

Chocolate City is a black and white zine with images taken by the children of Kiberans. The zine has a charming cut-and-paste, DIY affect with the children’s handwriting annotating various images with captions such as “Monkeys are funny & mad”. The children had full creative freedom over the content. They wrote and photographed the social issues they face and documented bizarre subcultures in Kibera such as Kenya's night runners – a group of men who strip naked and run at night to escape being possessed by evil spirits.

Now available on Zinester’s Kickstarter, Chocolate City was self-funded by Green and Thane. The pair aims to raise $6 000 to continue their work in Kibera and establish new workshops in other locations.  The Samburu women in the single-sexed village of Umoja in northern Kenya will publish the next zine. The women of Umoja banned men from their village in order to provide a safe haven for survivors of gender-based violence.

Images are courstey of Zinester.