Returning to Eastlands
It’s where I was born and called home for more than 25 years. These are the streets that shaped me, where I played shake, hid and sought and watched apartments grow in what were once open fields. When I was born, my parents were living in Buru Buru Phase 2. From there, they moved to Umoja 1 before settling in Doonholm in July 1979. They have lived there ever since. #OnetouchLive_Eastlando was a walk down memory lane for me.
Onetouch was out to change the common narratives about Eastlands by showcasing stories about people who earn a living here.
We started on Rabai Road, shooting portraits of mechanics who can fix any engine part and beat any twisted metallic panel back to shape. At NCCK, my dad had a mechanic known as Ngonyoku whom he trusted with our Datsun 120Ys – all three of them. Today, a mall sits in the same place and the mechanics have been pushed to the roadside where they repair engines and do body works as cars whizz by.
Anne Wanjiru runs a motor vehicle spares shop with her husband.
Before the Umoja Catholic Church planted Doonholm Catholic Church, my family worshipped at either Blessed Sacrament in Buru Buru 3 or Jericho Catholic Church. Next to the church in Jericho was a dust bowl of a soccer pitch. It produced Kenyan greats like Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee, Bernard ‘Zico’ Otieno, John ‘Shoto’ Lukoye and Onetouch’s very own Paul ‘Maldini’ Obuna. It was a great joy to see Toyoyo Stadium covered in artificial grass!
We used to tie a string to one leg of a beetle like this and spin it until it flew around, tethered to our fingers by the string. It wasn’t animal cruelty back then; it was a social networking opportunity.
Inside Jericho Market in the 80s and 90s was a stall run by a man known as Mwangi who had a Toyota Stout. He was our preferred source of fruits and vegetables for many years. When visiting the market earlier this week, we walked through the back side of the market where we found carpenters and tailors doing what they do best.
James Muchira, 20, builds coffins at Jericho Market.
Just as a chef checks for saltiness in his food and a car is taken on a test drive, James checks the integrity of his coffins before making them available for sale.
Kevin Ouma shares some of the images shot with the carpenters. Onetouch will print the images and present them to their owners free of charge once image selection and printing is done.
Dick Awoche builds a cabinet for a church at his workshop.
Simon Muli is a tailor with 10 years’ experience.
We left Jericho and headed to Umoja, an estate that was home for a couple of months before we moved to Doonholm in the late 70s.
In the 80s and early 90s, we visited family and friends in Umoja regularly. An older cousin had a stall in Umoja One Market where she knit sweaters, shawls, scarves and table cloths for clients. Today, the main market is full of salons and outside the market, what were once green spaces have been replaced with workspaces for metal smiths.
Kamau Mwendwa inside his stall outside Umoja One Market. Kamau has been a locksmith for 10 years.
The coolest guy we met was Gerald Wachira Warui. He’s been a locksmith at Umoja One Market, cutting keys, repairing locks and fixing padlocks for 35 years!
Gerald has seen Umoja One transform from a beautiful middle class estate to the concrete high rise residential area it is today. He has mentored several other locksmiths and shares knowledge about his craft with anyone who asks.
Hats off to you too Lion!