Slums in Africa
“The train bore me away, through the monstrous scenery of slag-heaps, chimneys, piled scrap-iron, foul canals, and paths of cindery mud criss-crossed by the prints of clogs. This was March, but the weather had been horribly cold and everywhere there were mounds of blackened snow. As we moved slowly through the outskirts of the town we passed row after row of little grey slum houses running at right angles to the embankment. At the back of one of the houses a young woman was kneeling on the stones, poking a stick up the leaden waste-pipe which ran from the sink inside and which I suppose was blocked. I had time to see everything about her—her sacking apron, her clumsy clogs, her arms reddened by the cold. She looked up as the train passed, and I was almost near enough to catch her eye. She had a round pale face, the usual exhausted face of the slum girl who is twenty-five and looks forty, thanks to miscarriages and drudgery; and it wore, for the second in which I saw it, the most desolate, hopeless expression I have ever-seen. It struck me then that we are mistaken when we say that ‘It isn’t the same for them as it would be for us,’ and that people bred in the slums can imagine nothing but the slums. For what I saw in her face was not the ignorant suffering of an animal. She knew well enough what was happening to her—understood as well as I did how dreadful a destiny it was to be kneeling there in the bitter cold, on the slimy stones of a slum backyard, poking a stick up a foul drain-pipe.”
George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier.
The scenario George Orwell described is exactly how life in a slum is like. If you think that the places shown in Slum Dog millionaire were just a part of some set and made to get sentiments from the audience than you need to think again because all that is real. Today even in 2017, places like that still exist and for hundreds of individuals those slums are home.
Most of the countries in Africa fall below the poverty line and so slums are quite common. Slums grow as they offer something that the poor masses require, affordable system of housing near to work, public transport and school. The cities in Africa are sprawling and insanely car dependent. From Lagos to Lusaka, shopping malls and suburban housing estates which are seemingly transplanted from Atlanta or Houston are rising up at the edge of cities. But most of the African population is unable to afford cars. In Nairobi, Kenya the slums are among the very few areas that are close to jobs where it is also possible to go watch a film, go shop and get a street side meal, all without owning a vehicle.
Kibera is the largest urban slum in all of Africa, it is located in Nairobi. Sources suggest that the population of this place is well over one million people, depending on which slums are included in defining Kibera.
Most of the residents of the slum Kibera live in extreme poverty and earn less than 1 dollar a day. The unemployment rates are sky high. Most of the residents have been infected with HIV or AIDS. Cases of rape and assault are quite common. There are a few numbers of schools and most of the people cannot afford to educate their children. As expected the sewage system is dreadful and clean water is scarce. Diseases are very common due to the poor hygiene. A majority of the people living in the slums do not have excess to basic living necessities such as running water, electricity and medical care. The neighborhood is divided into a number of villages, including Gatwekera, Lindi, Kisumu Ndogo, Kianda, Sowete East, Makina, Mashumoni, Siranga and Laini Saba.
“Look, this boy’s been kicked around all his life. You know-living in a slum, his mother dead since he was nine. He spent a year and a half in an orphanage while his father served a jail term for forgery.
That’s not a very good head start. He’s had a pretty terrible sixteen years. I think maybe we owe him a few words. That’s all.”
Reginald Rose, Twelve Angry Men.
Other slums in Africa include:. Alexandra, Gauteng in South Africa. It is more famously known as Alex and is a township. The slum if a part of Johannesburg and is considered one of the poorest urban slums in South Africa. The place has more than twenty thousand dwellings or shacks. The Nima Slum in Ghana. It is a residential town in the Greater Accra Region and the biggest slum in Accra. The people who reside in this slum find it very difficult to get cleaning water and live with very poor sanitation facilities.
Shomolu is Nigeria is another slum that is an unsophisticated neighborhood in the Ikeja Division of Lago State. It is very famous because of its poor infrastructure. Agbogbloshie is located in South Ghana. It is more popularly known as Gomorrah or Sodom. It has been considered to be the largest waste dumping site in the whole world. The slum dwellers face fatal health risks from the electronic dump site located there. Approximately eighty thousand squatters deal in scrap metals from this site.
The slum situation in Africa grows worse year by year, this is because these areas are neglected by the African governments and the poor cannot help themselves, they are helpless. With the growing population there seems to be little or no good news in the future for these slums.
“I was born in a slum, but the slum wasn’t born in me.”
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