12 May 2016
Writer Tom Grass and photographer Harrison Thane have created a distinctively lo-fi social initiative called Zinester. It is inspiring children in Kenya’s Kibera slum to capture the spirit and narrative of the people living there in words and pictures. It is distributed as photocopied magazines.
Much like the early punk music-inspired DIY magazine culture in the UK and US during the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Kibera “zines” are entirely conceived, created and controlled by kids. It is filled with enthusiastic, creative articles highlighting the distinctive subcultures in the community.
Grass and Thane teach youngsters basic photography and journalism skills. Once schooled, the kids take to the streets to interview residents and observe interesting events like the notorious night runners of Kibera, a group of men who strip and run at night to escape evil spirits.
The young writers, photographers and artists compile collaged articles which is printed, photocopied, and distributed to the community for free. An anthology is compiled digitally for purchase by international readers, under the title Chocolate City.
The Zinester team work at the Wings of Life Children’s Centre in Kibera, a development hub that offers support and education to the impoverished, orphans and abused children.
The project is funded by Grass and Thane with no other support other than their modest crowdfunding kickstarter campaign. All donations are ploughed back into sustaining the centre, the magazine itself, and developing new magazine ideas in other parts of Kenya.
One of their next workshops will be in the northern Kenyan village of Umoja, a women-only community and a safe haven for survivors of gender-based violence.
The kids of Zinester has been covered in a number of international design and culture magazines, as well as being profiled on BBC News and American-Canadian broadcaster, the Vice channel.
Watch the Zinester video profile below: