In a controversial campaign, Water Is Life, a US based non-profit entity, has stolen public art from Kibera by world-famous artist JR . They intend to raise money to be used to provide 5000 gallon per day water filter and a community hand washing station.
It wasn’t strange that many people didn’t know about it since the art was stolen anyway.
The first thing noticeable to a curious visitor are the missing pieces in some roofs within the area that the art covered, in Kisumu Ndogo village of Kibera. When I asked about the missing pieces, the residents blamed that on the wind, others said the missing pieces were removed due to the rotting iron roofs, to pave way for replacements, no one knew anything about Water is Life and any of the art being stolen.
One resident, who also happened to be a structure owner, actually thought that it would be good if the person who brought the art pieces can replace them with new ones because those ones had taken too long on the roofs and were probably contributing to rotting of iron roofs especially during the rainy season.
When I showed them the article and the Youtube video of how the art have been stolen and is being auctioned off to raise money, they were mostly confused on what to say.
“Water is Life is probably doing the right thing but not in the right way,” observed the structure owner I spoke to, “They should have been transparent about it, and should have shared what they are doing with us.” Why would they steal if they mean well, that’s what they asked.
On Facebook Kibera’s MP had stronger words:
One woman who woke up one morning to find the piece of art on her rooftop gone, said that the piece had been helping to prevent rain water from coming inside her house. But she was actually grateful when, a few days later, a group of young men came with new iron sheets for her roof. She says that they never explained to her anything, just repaired her roof and went away with the rotten old iron sheets.
After my revelation to them, they are now expecting the said water projects from Water Is Life.