Slum City Africa

Slum City Africa

"A Very Bad Place with Good Teachings"

By Warren Elofson & Jonah Weyessa

Slum City Africa: “A Very Bad Place With Good Teachings” uses a combination of personal experience and stories passed down to Warren Elofson’s co-author Jonah Weyessa to textualize the realities of living in Nairobi’s poverty-stricken region, Kibera, one of the world’s dirtiest and most dangerous city slums.

Paperback, 252 Pages


September 2022

£14.99, $17.95

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About This Book

Warren Elofson’s interest in the cattle business stems from years of first-hand experience ranching and farming in western Canada. His interest in Africa originated in the summer of 2018 when he hired a young man named Jonah Weyessa to help him shingle a roof on a “cabin” in Windermere, British Columbia, Canada. As they worked, Weyessa told him all about his life growing up in Kibera, Kenya, one of the world’s dirtiest and most dangerous city slums. Elofson was most intrigued by the fact that his young workmate remembered his experiences in Kibera with considerable fondness. “Yes,” he said when asked, “we were poor, but we lived in a community where people of different religions and cultures pulled together. I played in the streets with other kids and when one of our parents couldn’t be around or didn’t have food one day other parents stepped in and helped out.” “But weren’t you scared,” Elofson naively asked, “you know, wasn’t it dangerous there?” “No, it wasn’t” came the reply, “not at all, because in our little part of the community there were always two or three adults watching out for us. I felt safer there than I did later on in the first North American city we stayed in. 

Using a combination of personal experience and stories passed down to him, Jonah works with Warren to help textualize the realities of living in Nairobi’s poverty-stricken region, Kibera, one of the world’s dirtiest and most dangerous city slums in Slum City Africa: “A Very Bad Place With Good Teachings”.


“Slum City Africa: ‘A Very Bad Place with Good Teachings’ provides a travailing expose of an Ethiopian family’s harrowing and haunting experience as they journeyed to Kenya in search of new lives. This book comprehensively and relentlessly burnishes the vulnerable slum life through the eyes of a mother and a son and how Mahret, the lead woman character in the novel, seeks to cope and necessarily overcome the gender challenges African women face in shantytowns. Through the lens of the kids in the book, we are exposed to the power of communities, the concept of solidarity, and the necessity of hospitality in vulnerable spaces, which ultimately provides us significant insights into the nexus linking home, community, and identity together.” —Toyin Falola, Jacob and Frances Sanger Chair in the Humanities, and author of A Mouth Sweeter Than Salt.

“With a deep understanding of history, Weyessa and Elofson present a captivating story of creativity, resilience, and survival, and of African womanhood, motherhood, and friendship as an Oromo, Ethiopian family transitions from a rural agrarian community decimated by drought, famine, and ethnic persecution to transnational refugee camps and massive urban shantytown infested with diseases, crimes, and economic hardships. A profoundly moving narrative.” —Gloria Chuku, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; author of Igbo Women and Economic Transformation in Southeastern Nigeria, 1900–1960.

“This captivating story explores the impact of war and displacement on an ordinary Ethiopian family focusing on the resilience of a mother trying to create a better life for her children amid the poverty and violence of one of Africa’s largest slums. A particularly topical account given the persistence of conflict and drought in the Horn of Africa and the increasing number of refugees and internally displaced people across the globe.” —Timothy Stapleton, University of Calgary; author of Africa: War and Conflict in the Twentieth Century.

Author Information

Warren Elofson is a history professor at the University of Calgary. He has authored books in British constitutional history and western Canadian, western United States and northern Australian ranching frontier history. 

Jonah Weyessa is a founder of a new tech start-up based out of British Columbia, Canada. He has a BSc degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alberta. Slum City Africa: A "Very" Bad Place with Good Teachings is Jonah’s first novel. 


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Table of Contents

Introduction; Chapter 1 Ethiopia: A Fragile Life In The Countryside; Chapter 2 The Last Hurrah; Chapter 3 Fundamental Issues; Chapter 4 The Call Of Duty; Chapter 5 More Ways Than One?; Chapter 6 Saving The World?; Chapter 7 Only Little Fools; Chapter 8 Off To “War”; Chapter 9 Selling Out; Chapter 10 Living In Fear; Chapter 11 The Trip Of A Lifetime; Chapter 12 A Long Way from Home; Chapter 13 Moyale; Chapter 14 A Daunting New Life; Chapter 15 Life Friends; Chapter 16 The Facts of Life; Chapter 17 “Public Transport”; Chapter 18 Learning to Love: (Even the Hated); Chapter 19 The Evil Cousin; Chapter 20 Life In The Compound; Chapter 21 Settling In; Chapter 22 Survival; Chapter 23 Getting Straight; Chapter 24 A Place of Our Own; Chapter 25 Security; Chapter 26 A Kid’s Life; Chapter 27 Home and School; Chapter 28 Off to School; Chapter 29 Barisso; Chapter 30 A Slight Glimmer of Hope; Chapter 31 Nostalgia; Chapter 32 It Takes Guts; Chapter 33 Help Me or Kill Me; Chapter 34 Family Reunion; Chapter 35 Resetting the Mind; Chapter 36 Adjusting; Chapter 37 Still, We Gotta Get Out of This Place; Chapter 38 Hell Hath Staying Power; Chapter 39 More Of The Same; Chapter 40 Off to School Again; Chapter 41 Harmony Child Rescue Center; Chapter 42 Stepping Up; Chapter 43 Discipline: What’s That?; Chapter 44 Nice Club; Chapter 45 On the Mend; Chapter 46 Healing; Chapter 47 Attending to Business; Chapter 48 Thought to Action: Two Are Better than One; Chapter 49 Off We Go; Chapter 50 Down In The Dump; Chapter 51 Give Us a Break Please!; Chapter 52 The Last Straw; Chapter 53 The Last Last Straw; Chapter 54 The Final Last Straw; Chapter 55 A Very Bad Place with Good Teachings; Chapter 56 A Way Out for Good; Epilogue; Oromo Words and Phrases Used in the Text


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