12-04-2020 by Freddie del Curatolo
Pablo Picasso could not have imagined and painted a more devastating scene, between human degradation and despair, than the photo we chose to comment on what happened in the slum of Kibera, one of the largest and poorest in all of Africa.
And it is not a civil war, as in the famous "Guernica" where heads, outstretched arms, dangling tongues, gnashed teeth and terrified, surrendering or angry looks overlap in the crowd of a massacre. In fact, it was supposed to be a charitable initiative, the largest ever undertaken since the Coronavirus emergency began in Kenya. The leader of the Opposition and now external collaborator of the Government Raila Odinga, known as "Baba" (the father of all) who has one of his strongholds in Kibera, has decided to donate food, as well as soap and disinfectants, for about 120,000 euros.
Despite the donation and the provenance had been properly advertised, in the shantytown of the desperate, where the virus is seen as the lesser evil than in a daily hell where "#stayhome" (but let's put this damn hashtag) is the biggest and most useless nonsense you can tell them, the food distribution has turned into a battle, a pile of souls in pain for which social distances will never exist and for which eating today is much more important than dying tomorrow.
So here they are huddling, shoving, spraining limbs, biting, rolling and dying (literally, unfortunately, three inhabitants of Kibera were crushed) for a kilo of cornmeal, for a handful of beans, for whatever may come, without even knowing what it is. Just like when they cook radioactive spinach that grows next to flocks of puke that vomit the worst of the industries of the metropolis, or when they rummage in the large Dandora landfill looking for the garbage from the planes, where sometimes you find chewed remains of meals on board, sometimes just kerosene to sniff.
The idea of distributing food comes from the certainty of Kenyan politicians that there can be no serious lockdown in the country, without providing at least a third of the population with what they need to feed themselves and survive for three or four weeks.
Well, if Raila Odinga's was a test, it shows that despite the good intentions and possible aid from FAO, the Bill Gates Foundation and non-governmental organizations from around the world, it will be very difficult to feed these people without an unprecedented program and a perfect organization. Especially in the slums of Nairobi, where the virus will be the least of the problems in the coming days and weeks. It is no coincidence that the Minister of the Interior and National Security Fred Matiang'i yesterday banned any food distribution exercise that does not come from the government, inviting organizations and individuals to abide by the rules of not creating groups.
"We will create additional measures that will ensure the coordination, consolidation, demarcation and distribution of donations in a dignified manner to vulnerable members of our society throughout the country, based on an already developed mapping of the highest risk areas, while ensuring that it is distributed in a transparent and responsible manner.
It will not be easy at all and, in the same way that we hope (with much optimism but little hope) that the pandemic will make us understand so many of the mistakes of our recent past, we hope that we are getting to the point where we must consider it a priority to work on the abysmal social inequalities in Nairobi, so that no human being should become the appearance of a monstrous, demonic and disheartening social framework.
by Freddie del Curatolo
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