First KYC TV films: Mukuru life through the lenses

By Jackie Waithaka, Communications intern, SDI Kenya

Africa, the cradle of mankind, has had thousands of stories told about it over the years. Narrated with a lot of zeal and dedication, many of these stories touch on lives and are inspired by real life events. Mukuru, in Nairobi—the most populous city in Kenya—is one area where African stories are born. In the five short films below, talented and creative minds have come together to produce powerful tales about Mukuru.

Photo: Nicera Wanjiru

Photo: Nicera Wanjiru

The films take you through a compelling journey, giving the essence of life in the Mukuru slum. They unpick some of the key obstacles Mukuru’s residents face—from living in housing facilities that are below par, to pollution from industries, to insecurity, among others. The films carry themes that reflect the struggles the residents have to endure. They aim to bring forth awareness about these issues and spark conversations that are geared towards addressing the challenges.

To make these films, youths from Mukuru, Kibera, and Huruma got together to design, direct, shoot, and act in five exciting and creative artistic pieces that want to keep the audience glued to their screens. From applying different shooting techniques to brilliant editing skills, the films reveal beyond doubt the measure of creativity possessed by youths in these settlements.

Johnte, a youth coordinator who was part of the production process of the films, admits that when starting out, the experience wasn’t a walk in the park for them. They had so much to learn! After undergoing training, they set the ball rolling and begun producing the films, and within months had a total of five films to showcase!

“It was exciting to capture the life of a typical Mukuru resident through a camera’s powerful lenses”—Johnte

In one of the films,  a dramatic soundtrack full of suspense kicks in as we get to see a young girl going through her normal life routine, in distress. Later, she summons up the courage to open up to her mother, telling her about something that transpired recently in her life. But how exactly does her mother take in her news? What befalls this young girl after she finally finds the courage to reveal what happened? All these questions are answered in ‘Whom to turn to’, directed by Susan.

You can view these films and more at our youtube channel


About the project

In June 2017, Muungano launched KYC TV Kenya, a local chapter of SDI’s Know Your City TV project.  Supported by Cities Alliance and GIZ, the project equips youth with video documentation resources to tell stories of the lived experiences of the urban poor, and make media that contributes to the transformation of slums and cities.

The project recruited, equipped, and trained 20 youth from Mukuru and other slums in Nairobi. Mukuru slums sit on 647 acres and are home to 100,000 households. The slum has been designated a 'special planning area' of the Nairobi county government, in recognition that existing city planning laws and procedures cannot be used to address slums' complicated land tenure arrangements, improve on very low levels of provision of services, and upgrade the largely iron sheet housing stock.

The initial focus of KYC TV Kenya is to bring the reality of Mukuru to the fore using short drama and documentaries, and bring these insights to the planning process. Using art to make planning possible.

These five films are supported by Swiss Caritas, SDI, and the Stockholm Environmental Institute, all organisations that are part of the County’s special planning effort in Mukuru. They were first shown at the Mukuru Film Festival, in October 2017, in Nairobi.