My life with a Flip
BEFORE I GOT MY FLIP CAMERA from The Media Project, I had a notebook bursting with unrealized story ideas. Never did I dream that one day I would be able to turn them into reality, since I could not afford any video equipment on my own.
But all that changed with the pocket-sized Flip camera I received in The Media Project's training in Cape Town in 2009.
It was marvelous. I had all the necessary tools in my hands to tell my own stories, starting with this small but powerful video device. I was used to working with big cameras and a big crew at my place of work. Now here I was alone with my Flip. I knew this was my chance to tell African stories in my own way and on my own time.
I remember clearly one Saturday morning, I parked my Flip in my small handbag and headed to Dandora Dumpsite, the biggest trash-collection site in Nairobi. This was a scary place, based on the stories other journalists brought back from Dandora. I knew this was a home to some bad people, but I decided to go and see for myself.
I asked my friend Jane to escort me, but when we reached at the entrance, she couldn't endure the foul smell. So, she stayed outside.
I made my way in alone. I watched the trash pickers in action, and I got the impression that everyone there was really busy. But I decided to approach a young boy who was occupied going through trash. I was not sure what he was looking for. He looked really friendly, and so I quickly introduced myself and asked him to show me his leader. He escorted me to Njoro.
Njoro looked sleepy. But he mustered the energy to interrogate me about my job.
"If you are a journalist, then where is your camera?’’ he began. "Where are you going to sell the stories?"
I kept quiet for some time as he talked, afraid that he might steal my camera. But after a bit, I took it out. And right from that moment, I started shooting comfortably. The result became my first solo documentary "Dandora Dumpsite".
Over the following months I became very attached to my Flip. In that time, I managed to complete the documentary "Slum Queens". The Flip camera was a big advantage in filming "Slum Queens". The women I met in this documentary were much more comfortable and open with me because there was no big camera to intimidate them.
This year in February I decided to do a documentary on Nairobi's street girls. All was fine until my last day of the shoot at Mlango kubwa. I had just finished. I said goodbye to my characters, and I headed to the bus stop.
Five young men intercepted me and demanded I give them my mobile phone without seeking attention from the passersby. I immediately gave them my phone, which I was holding on my hands. I hoped that would be the end of it.
But then one of them said that that was not the phone they wanted. They were after the black one I was using with the Chokora (street children) moments ago. They wanted my Flip.