Mathare Youth light up slum in celebration of Bob Marley’s birthday

Today would have marked legendary Jamaican reggae artist Robert Nesta popularly known as Bob Marley’s 74th birthday.

Despite Bob Marley having died 38 years ago, his music has lived through the time and it’s evident by the ever-growing list of accomplishments attributable to his music, which advocated for social change.

In celebrating Marley’s birthday, the Mathare Roots a Youth group based in the surbub slums of Mathre organized a cleanup in their community. Marley’s words “live for yourself and you will live in vain. Live for others, and you will live again.” are some of the inspirational words the youth in the slum live by.

“Marley has been an inspiration to most of us from the slums and we wanted to celebrate this day by making our community a clean place to live in. Bob Marley advocated for social change and that is what we do every single day. We try and be impactful to our community,” said Lucas Odhiambo, Group coordinator for Mathare Roots Youth Group.


Bob’s story of inspiration began when he was young. He grew up in Nine Miles, Saint Ann, Jamaica a place where crime was glorified and his only way out was music and it is through music that he escaped the dangerous gang life but yet still he never forgot his hometown.

“He took on a series of community projects, at one time supporting more than 6,000 people with food, jobs, and housing. He invested in schools and infrastructure in Jamaica,” according to the Encyclopedia of World Biography.

In Mathare, Lucas is among the many youths who have been working with UN-Habitat to rehabilitate their community. The rehabilitation projects include environment and solid waste management, community, and resource mobilization, capacity building among the communities and addressing cross-cutting issues including HIV and AIDs, alcohol, drug and substance abuse and insecurity among others.

INSET: Youths taking part in a cleaning exercise PHOTO: Courtesy

The clean-up was launched in October last year as the world marked World Habitat Day.

UN-Habitat Executive director Maimunah Mohd Sharif launched the campaign with the aim of reducing the amount of global waste.

“The response has been positive but the challenge is most people are out hustling even on Saturday but we always do the clean-up” Added Lucas.

“Our monthly cleanup exercise has witnessed increased participation from youth and women groups, the private sector and resident associations among other key players in the city. We hope that all city residents will take it as part of their routine even as we embrace our clean up slogan my waste my responsibility,” said Nairobi Mike Sonko.

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