Footpath. All photographs Kibera, Nairobi, 2005.


Within the next few years, for the first time in history, more people will live in cities than in rural areas, and one of every three of them—about a billion of the planet’s urbanites—will live in slums like Kibera, on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. Kibera, which is the size of New York’s Central Park, is home to as many as one million people, some say more, half of them under the age of fifteen and nearly all of them living in one-story, one-room mud-and-wattle homes. Kibera is one of Africa’s biggest slums, and it is growing steadily. In fact, the United Nations predicts that in the coming decades such megaslums will become our primary form of urban living. To picture what these statistics and projections mean, the photographer Jonas Bendiksen rented a room in Kibera in the spring of 2005, and as he got to know his neighbors, they invited him and his camera into their homes and into their stories. “Look,” he said, when he came back with his photos and reconstructed those homes—all four walls and the worlds they contain—on the printed page. “This is the way we live now.”