TEXT AND PHOTOS >> Bryan Jaybee
Kibera Stories is a long-term photojournalism project by Bryan Jaybee. It revolves around telling everyday stories from Kibera, where he was born and brought up – about its people’s potential, their desires, and their environment. Bryan is eager to share stories of Kibera’s sprawling, dynamic landscapes and drastic growth.
Being both an insider and an observer, Bryan not only documents the visual realities of Africa’s largest urban spontaneous settlement, but he also gives a glimpse into important social issues through the personal stories told through his photographs.
I started this photo project in 2013, slowly documenting my neighbourhood using a cellphone camera at first before saving for a few months to get my first digital camera. I didn’t have a plan. I would shoot anything and everything that I felt personally attached to or that was significant to my understanding – mostly applying my journalistic perspectives, since I had enrolled in a journalism school that same year. I started this project to represent my neighbourhood in an honest light rather than the typical touristy depictions of Kibera. Most of the photos I saw online didn’t interest me. They would always highlight the most abject and dire parts of the slum – kids looking hopeless in the streets, a drunken man sleeping in the trench nearby, and the sprawling view of Kibera painted a bad picture. All of this was true, but that is only a fragment of what is typical in all slums globally. Whenever there was a good photo from Kibera, then it was from an NGO with nothing but a caption asking for donations.
My goal to document my hometown is not to show the good side or the bad side; I am committed to showing what is real and true, the decisive moments that represent the norm of everyday life inside Africa’s most spontaneous urban settlement.
I am documenting a part of history that is important to me; these are not only my stories, but stories of my people. It’s amazing how my camera has witnessed massive growth and change in Kibera. Kibera two years ago is not Kibera now. This has been history in the making, a great step for the beginning of change. I want to take these stories to a much wider audience and maybe in a few years I will turn these stories into a book.