AO. "Famous with nothing"

AO: This excerpt from the discussion describes the surprise that two of the Kibera residents felt when they found their names mentioned in research reports. One person mentions that his name is in 15 reports. This seems to illustrate a point made by Bradbury-Jones and Weber (2019) who describe researchers' use of the same key informants as a short-cut to finding new participants. The report attributes this to the popularization of research that includes "community participation" without really adhering to what such terms stand for: "‘who is this community? Because the word is always community, participatory; but you find it is always the same gatekeepers’ (Interview 13 June)," (page 7).

Douglas and Micera mention that they are named (or depicted by photo) in various research outputs. While they take slight issue with the lack of consent, their biggest concern is more about the fact that despite these outputs, they don't see anything changing in their community. Notably, here Micera does not speak as an individual but speaks in the plural for the group ("it's not changing where the environment that we are in"). She describes this as "famous with nothing" - being represented in research outputs prolifically but that not translating into anything tangibly different in one's day-to-day life.

"Douglas Mamale

... I have just discovered that my name has been used in so many publications.

Angela Okune 3:18
Ah? Your names?

Douglas Mamale 3:19
Yeah, my names. I think in more than 15 different publications.

Angela Okune 3:25
15? Woah! Those are many!

Douglas Mamale 3:31
The only one that I think was quite (inaudible) cautious enough was a paper done by World Bank. That one mentioned my name... (inaudible)

Angela Okune 3:53
as like a thank you?

Douglas Mamale 3:54

Angela Okune 3:56
So how does that make you feel? To see your name? You feel famous or you feel used? [all laugh]

Micera Wanjiru 4:01
[Lots of murmuring] No, it's not the famous one... [all laugh].

Douglas Mamale 4:03
Ok, you know, based on the many I've seen, that one was the most honest. The most honest. Yes. (inaudible). Because I've participated in many others and you even don't know where the figures are or how the data looks like and all that. And you don't even know the value of all of this. So sometimes, if somebody calls and tells you they also want to talk to you... unaelewa (Swahili: you understand?) you are like, ok, another one? [all murmur in agreement, laugh].

Micera Wanjiru 4:37
I think when you find - like I was reading a certain report it is not yet released and i saw my photo there  - and I'm like, now you haven't told me that I'm in your report. But anyway. There's that feeling of ok this is good, you're making me famous but again on the other side, you are famous with nothing.

Female Respondent

Ai! With nothing! That is your view?

Micera Wanjiru

Yes, that is my view. Because when you participate in so many things and you don't know what is happening and it's not changing where the environment that we are in, you feel like wasted. You keep on asking questions, but this data will go...? The one who takes data will never come back to us like okay, we took this and these are the results. So you feel wasted."


Analytic (Question)





Creative Commons Licence