Over the past few weeks, if you have moved through the vast slum of Kibera (in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi) then you may have come across some characters looking to make a change in their communities. Though I am not talking about political candidates, who have been campaigning tirelessly in the build up to Kenya’s 2017 general election.
The figures I speak of are brightly and intriguingly dressed and go by various names – such as ‘Galaxy’, ‘Sniper man’, ‘Tavan’, ‘Rambo’, ‘Collins’ and ‘Gecko man’. They are on a mission to pursue justice, defend the defenceless, or help those who cannot help themselves. They show courage, determination, persistence, teamwork, and creativity. They are, the Superheroes of Kibera.
‘Superheroes of Kibera’ is a multidisciplinary art project run by artists from Maasai Mbili and Nyota Arts. Each weekend art workshops have been held for young people from Kibera to creatively explore the notion of a superhero through discussion, painting, photography and making costumes. The project provides an uncommon opportunity for children to nurture and develop their artistic talents and interests. However, Superheroes of Kibera also comes at a time when society is seemingly moving into a culture of self-interest.
People regularly tend to be spectators rather than participants, and seek easy options rather than attempt to bring about change. Though this is not the characteristic of a superhero. The image of a superhero, and their moralistic character, regularly present us with something to aspire to in our own lives. Superheroes of Kibera can motivate us to better ourselves, to stand up for what’s right—even if we get nothing in return. We can all be a superhero.