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‘We are all in this together’

Handling a pandemic with kindness, information and hope

photo of a man holding a spray-paint can, wearing a facemask

Mutua, a graffiti artist, poses for a photo in front of a mural he was painting with information on COVID-19 and its side effects. Photo by Emmanuel Yegon in 2020.

Emmanuel Yegon co-founded Mobile Journalism Africa, a media startup that centers the mobile phone as its storytelling platform. Referring to mobile devices as ‘pocket studios,’ the startup works to equip young journalists with the skills and opportunities to share their stories. Yegon has described their work as solutions-based journalism, an approach that focuses on individuals’ responses to and resolutions of their lived experiences

In this collection, Yegon gathered stories of resilience and acts of kindness during the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. These are solution stories that show what people in informal settlements were doing to support their communities from the effects of the pandemic. They also show what young creatives did to communicate messages of hope amidst the pandemic.

One particular video reveals the spectacular graffiti murals by Mutua Ndeleva on the walls of Nairobi. They not only show how the pandemic has “adversely affected the livelihoods of Kenyans working in informal jobs, but also how they are coping through networks of solidarity and resilience.”

Nicy Amala, an expressionist artist, says of the project, “This kind of art makes people feel like we are all in this together, someone else understands what you are going through, you’re not alone. When all this is over, I hope we can be able to meet, share some hugs, nice stories and some art.” 

Some of the videos were made to provide information to communities. One example of this is the video made by Yasmin Mohammed, the founder of the SUPERB CBO in Kibera. During the pandemic, the organization is working hard to ensure women and girls have access to sanitary towels, food and education. With issues of gender-based violence are on the rise, they’re ensuring families have food since most domestic violence cases are fueled by financial struggle.

In this way, Yegon’s collage of short mobile videos visually represents the way the citizens of Kenya have sought to address the different issues that have arisen with the pandemic for themselves and the way social media has been an effective platform for doing so.


Edited by Faiza Masood.