Stories Behind Shoes Hanging on Power Lines
For years on end, one of the very notable features in the informal settlements of Nairobi have been the pair of shoes that hang on nearby electric power lines.
Residents staying in these neighbourhoods are quite familiar with the dangling shoes and have over time heard different stories on the same.
However, it is a global phenomenon with its history tracing back to the Western countries, where its practice began.
According to a report by footfiles, one of the reasons for these dangling shoes is that they exist as territory markers for gang members. They use these spots as both meeting points and hang out joints. Moreover, they could also indicate a drug dealing spot.
However, the shoes could also signify positive change. This is especially the case for when one transitions from one stage of their life to another. In the case of a criminal who has reformed, the hanging of the shoes is an attestation of his/her changed ways and acceptance as a member of the society.
In addition, a section of Kenyan youths gave their opinion on this practice, majorly noting that the shoes help them remember their past life and play a part in the decisions they make.
“Life can be tough but crime is not a good thing. When you have big brothers, please let them help you find something good to do,” stated one resident.
“When people pass by this place, they might assume those are numbers of fallen soldiers when they don’t know the true story,” stated another.
John Omondi, the chairman of Soweto Carwash in Kibra, narrated how having the shoes suspended on power lines has helped reduce crime in Kibra. He added that he has absorbed many youths under the carwash program as an alternative means to finance their livelihoods.
“We started coming in here one by one. When we bring one person, we make sure they hang their boots so that we are sure they are not going back to criminal activities. That way, you become a good person and we, therefore, delegate to you some work,” stated Omondi.
A resident from Kibra supported Omondi’s claim, stating that it was through working at a car wash owned by a reformed individual that he was able to secure formal employment.
“I used this platform as a referral to my seeking work,” the resident stated.
Finally, another reason for the dangling shoes is that some simply hang them because they have seen others